100,000 Reindeer died on Finnmark plateau

Scientists in Norway have raised the alarm after reports that close to 100,000 reindeer died last year on the Finnmark plateau, the heartland of Norway's Sami minority.

100,000 Reindeer died on Finnmark plateau
Reindeer. Photo: Jan Olsen/Vimeo Screen Grab
According to scientists at the Norwegian Institute for Nature research (NINA), the vast majority of the deer died from starvation caused by overgrazing rather than as a result of predators. 
Jørgen Kosmo, Norway's former auditor general on Monday attacked the country's Ministry of Agriculture for not doing more to reduce the number of deaths, which has been growing steadily for several years. 
"That the Ministry of Agriculture of changing governments has failed to take the necessary initiatives to reduce the number of reindeer dying is completely unacceptable," he said.  "It is not possible to hand over all responsibility to the herders and believe that this will resolve itself."  

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Record Arctic heat drives reindeer into cool tunnels

Norwegian authorities have urged motorists to watch out for reindeer that are seeking refuge in tunnels to cool themselves amid extreme heat in the nation's far north.

Record Arctic heat drives reindeer into cool tunnels
File photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix

“It has been very hot for weeks in northern Norway,” Tore Lysberg, a senior official at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, told AFP on Thursday.

“The animals retreat to colder places, both reindeer and sheep find refuge in tunnels and shaded areas to cool down,” he said.

Although this phenomenon is nothing new, it could be intensified by record temperatures in Norway's northernmost regions.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute posted a temperature of 31.2 degrees Celsius on Wednesday in Finnmark, a major reindeer herding region located within the Arctic Circle.

The region is so hot that it has experienced 12 “tropical” nights with evening temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius so far this year, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration said no serious accidents involving animals have been reported yet but described the situation as “a challenge”.

The government agency, which has multiplied its messages to raise awareness among motorists, should be helped by the weather, which is expected to return towards normal starting this weekend.

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