Reindeer Roadkill

ENVIRONMENT

In less than a week, more than 100 reindeer have been killed by freight trains in a “bloodbath” in northern Norway. (The Guardian)

How are reindeer part of the Norwegian landscape?

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources, including today’s simple MapMaker Interactive map.

More than 100 reindeer have been killed over the past week, as trains collided with migrating herds in northern Norway. Use today’s MapMaker Interactive map to navigate a northern Norwegian railway line, and consider challenges engineers may encounter if trying to erect fencing along the route. Financial? Ecological? Environmental?

 

Discussion Ideas

  • There have been three major collisions between reindeer herds and Norwegian freight trains in less than a week, resulting in 110 reindeer fatalities. Are these freak accidents?
    • No. According to the New York Times, “Such collisions are not uncommon. Since 2010, 200 to 600 reindeer have been in train-related accidents each year, the railway estimates. Last year, 2,016 animals — elk, deer, reindeer, sheep and others — were killed.”
    • Northern Norway is part of a major migration route for reindeer seeking their winter foraging grounds in northern Scandinavia.

This map shows the principal migration routes of reindeer and reindeer herders of northern Norway. The accidents took place just southwest of this map.
Map by National Geographic Maps

 

  • The collisions have been “a senseless animal tragedy … a psychological nightmare.” The ecological toll is clear (110 dead animals). What are the economic and social tolls of the accidents?

 

  • Are there similar incidents involving livestock or wild animals and trains in other nations?
    • Of course there are, although very few involving livestock in the U.S., as most herds of cattle, sheep, and horses are well confined in fenced-in areas.
    • In India, the extensive train network has led to several elephant collisions.
    • In Great Britain, trains have collided with herds of sheep and horses.
    • In the U.S., the building of the transcontinental railroad resulted in many bison deaths, and permanently split the bison population into two herds—one north of the great railway, one south. Learn more about that here.

 

TEACHERS TOOLKIT

The Guardian: More than 100 reindeer killed by freight trains in Norway ‘bloodbath’

New York Times: ‘It Was a Blood Bath’: Freight Trains Kill 110 Reindeer in Norway

(Norwegian) Bane NOR: Undersøker dyrepåkjørslene

Nat Geo: Reindeer Roadkill map

Railway Technology: The underdog: preventing animal casualties on railways

Nat Geo: What is herding?

Reindeer Husbandry: Reindeer Husbandry in Norway

Reindeer Herding: Sami – Norway

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