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.
- 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.
- 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?
- economic. Herding is a small but important part of the Norwegian economy. There are herds of about 250,000 semi-domestic reindeer in the country, most located in the far northern Finnmark area. Most reindeer are livestock and herded for meat; herds are also important for the tourism industry (Rudolph!); and antlers and coats are used in some handicrafts. Click here to learn more than you ever wanted to know about reindeer husbandry in Norway.
- social. Reindeer herding is a crucial part of Sami identity. Sami, indigenous peoples of Norway and Scandinavia, have been herding reindeer for meat, milk, and transportation for thousands of years. Learn more about siiddat (Sami reindeer herding groups) here.
- 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.
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