Shade-seeking reindeers shut highway tunnel

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Over-heated reindeer headed for shade inside a Norway tunnel. Photo: Shutterstock
12:09 CEST+02:00
Norwegian authorities were forced to close part of a motorway in the Arctic after reindeer invaded a road tunnel, seeking refuge from unusually high summer temperatures on Monday.

The Stallogargo tunnel on the RV94 motorway, near Hammerfest, has been closed since Monday. Car drivers have had to find an alternative route up until Wednesday to reach the road at the other end of the tunnel which heads to Hammerfest.

A spokeswomen for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration said to The Local: "The tunnel was re-opened from 11.30am on Wednesday."

The tunnel's closure is due to a herd of reindeer inside it, who are sheltering in the tunnel's shade from the unusually high summer temperatures, which reached 22 degrees on Monday.

Tor Inge Hellander, head of section for operation and maintenance in the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, said to “Finnmark Dagblad”:  “As long as the reindeer go in and we cannot get them out, we consider driving inside the tunnel more dangerous than driving outside of it.”

Hellander believes the tunnel will be closed for a short period of time. He said: “These past days have been so hot that the reindeer are drawn into the tunnel. According to past experiences, the animals will move out of the tunnel as the weather cools. But the duration of the heat will decide for how long the tunnel will be closed.”
According to Hellander, attempts have been made to chase the reindeer out from the tunnel. He explained: “Our operations leader has attempted to get the reindeer out of the tunnel, but it is a hopeless task. Having chased out the reindeer, only a few hours pass until they return to the tunnel again.”
Hellander added: “We can simply not keep people in the tunnel 24/7 in order to chase out the reindeer.”
On the question of how he plans to deal with the problem in the future, Hellander informed the Norwegian Public Roads Administration is now considering measures in order to avoid this problem.
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Hellander said: “With problems like these, we usually put cattle grids in front of the openings of the tunnel but this also comes with operational disadvantages. We still have to consider doing something about the Stallogargo tunnel, and this solution could happen.”

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