More than a 100 reindeer have been killed by freight trains in Norway in just three days. A single incident on Saturday resulted in the deaths of 65 animals, while a further 45 reindeer were killed in separate collisions between Wednesday and Friday last week, said Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
Speaking to the broadcaster, reindeer herder Ole Henrik Kappfjell described the incident as “a senseless animal tragedy”. Kappfjell, who is the owner of the 65 beasts killed on Saturday told NRK, “We have a close relationship with our animals. I am so angry that I am almost dizzy”. He later described the scale of the slaughter to AP as “unprecedented”.
Norway is home to around a quarter of a million reindeer, and most of them live in the far north of the country. This time of year sees a mass migration of the beasts as herders drive them from their summer pastures in search of grazing grounds. The journey is proving to be increasingly perilous as many are hit by cars and trains. Around 250 reindeer are thought to have been killed by trains in the region in the past year alone.
NRK reports that a “technical failure” meant that a warning to drivers to proceed slowly through the migration area failed to reach the train involved in Saturday’s tragic collision. Bane Nor, the local train operator, has since reduced speeds in the area.
Mass reindeer deaths are becoming an annual occurrence in the region, and local residents and reindeer herders are campaigning for barriers to be erected alongside the rails. Bane Nor has acknowledged the scale of the problem but so far, no funds have been allocated.