For all those who love that fat promoter of unbridled consumerism and gluttony, Santa, and his reindeer slaves as much as I do, you will be sorry to hear that we saw a few dead on the side of the road. Those in the photo are very much alive however, and it looks like there are still enough to pull a sleigh.
We spent some time speaking with a Sammi (indigenous people of northern Scandinavia) reindeer herder who gave us a presentation on his efforts to move his community and profession toward a sustainable model. He told us of the difficulties they are having now because the reindeer have lost their herd mentality. In the old days, they would move with the herd toward the coast, and the herd stayed pretty much together. Now, however, due to bad logging practices along the way, the deer have to spread further out to find food. This makes it impossible to herd them, so the Sammi had to turn to trucking the deer toward the coast. Once this happened, families were broken up as mothers and fawns were split, and the herd lost the community mentality. In the past, when the herder wanted to gather all the deer together, they had to simply scare them and they would gather together for protection. Now that they are becoming loners, when they are scared they scatter. The Sammi have then begun using motorcycles to keep the herd together, and reindeer herding has become an extremely dangerous job, not to mention the damage that motorcycles do to the environment.
They have other problems too... they send their women off to school where the women marry and don't come back. And then there is the Russian Mafia, and the guy who has a big freezer warehouse importing deer from russia driving down the price and making it impossible to make a living off of the reindeer.
It was a long ways away, but when Tomoe comes in February, I'm thinking it will be great to go back up there with a little more time to explore, and after having done some research on the whole Sammi situation.
As for the damage caused by cars hitting reindeer, I asked him if it cuts into their profits. He says no, but what it does do is create a feast for the crows. The crows popluation grows too large which causes problems because they eat the eggs of other more endangered birds.
I love the beautiful pictures of reindeer.