Be ware of reindeer on the road

This winter in south of Lapland there is extremely much snow. The depth of the snow was approx. 85 cm in Rovaniemi last week. The last few days have been sunny and warm and that has reduced the snow depth a lot. The fluffy snow from last week has changed into more compact snow in the nature. This makes it also easier to approach the snow with skis or snowmobiles.

The large amount of snow in the city is a problem for the traffic and the cleaning has taken a lot of time. It has been very clever to mark the electricity boxes with a long stick. They very quickly disappear under the large amounts of snow.


When the snow melts you will find out what you forgot to put away in the autumn before it started snowing….


It is not only the cars and the pedestrians that suffer from the large amount of snow. Also the reindeer in the forests have to struggle with the snow. It makes it hard for them to find food and it causes troubles to move for them. If the forest is covered with fluffy snow 85 cm and the legs of an ordinary reindeer are approx. 80 cm, you understand the trouble the snow causes to the reindeer.

During spring the conditions change as the snow is getting more tight by the influence of the sun and warmer temperatures, the snow is getting so hard that the reindeer as well as people and snowmobiles can move on top of the snow because the surface is indurated by the warm sun in the day and the cold nights.

This time of the year you have to look out for reindeer on the roads, because they rather walk on the roads than in the forests because of the snow. Another reason for them to stay on the road is the salt spread on the roads to melt the snow. Reindeer also want the salt.



Once I was driving there was even a reindeer sleeping on the road. It did not get up, but I had to slow down my car and pass by it very carefully. I could see it looking at me, so it was not dead, but it really did not bother to rise.

Every year about 4,000 collisions take place between cars and reindeer in the reindeer herding areas in Finland. The modern technique could be used to transfer warnings between the cars on the road. That is a project going on and it will be first available for commercial vehicles. The reindeer warning system means when one driver sees reindeer on the road he could just by pressing a button on his phone get the message to other cars in the surrounding areas to let them know where the risk to crash a reindeer is really remarkable at that moment. That would save a lot of reindeer lives. The collision risks with reindeer involved are largest in October-January. This warning system can be in everyone’s use at the earliest during the year 2016.

In the dark autumn evenings reindeer also walk along and across the roads. Last year there were tests made with a new invention with reflex color sprayed on the antlers of some 300 reindeer in the reindeer herding areas. This made it easy to see a reindeer even from afar and the driver had time to press the brake and avoid crashes. Many other ways have been tested, but for example collars with reflex has not met the expectations, they have eventually fallen off in the forests. The reflex paint was put on bone antlers, not on still growing antlers. Tests for how well the paint stayed on the antlers in different weather conditions were taken last spring. Last autumn tests for how successful the method is in preventing crashes is taken. The tests are not finished and the results are not ready yet.

This method would protect the female reindeer more than the males, because the males use to drop the antlers during winter. But on the other hand there are more female reindeer than males. If a reindeer dies in a collision the state of Finland grant punitive damages from 253-759 euro per reindeer, depending of how valuable the reindeer is. A stud or a doe is considered more valued than fawns for example.



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