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Scores of Norwegian reindeer mowed down

November 27, 2017

More than 100 reindeer in Norway have been killed by freight trains in recent days, according to local reports. Railway operators have so far failed to put up a safety fence demanded by herders.

European reindeer in Norway
Image: picture-alliance/blickwinkel/M. Woike

In what has been called a "bloodbath," a total of 106 Norwegian reindeer on their winter migration have been killed by freight trains in the north of the country since Wednesday, Norway's public broadcaster NRK said late on Sunday.

Sixty-five animals were mown down on a track on Saturday, and another 41 between Wednesday and Friday, NRK said.

The owner of the 65 dead reindeer, Ole Henrik Kappfjell, described the killings to NRK as "a senseless animal tragedy ... a psychological nightmare."

The reindeer deaths come as herders take the animals on a search for winter grazing grounds. The annual journey often proves dangerous, with many of the reindeer hit by cars or trains, or dying by drowning.

Read more: More than 300 reindeer killed by lightning storm in Norway 

Endangered fjords in Norway

'Unprecedented' numbers

More than 2,000 reindeer were hit and killed along the same northern stretch of railway line between 2013 and 2016. One herder, Torstein Appfjell, however, told The Associated Press that the number of reindeer killed in recent incidents was "unprecedented."

Documentary filmmaker Jon Erling Utsi, who took photographs of the dead reindeer from Saturday's incident, called it a "bloodbath," adding that some animals did not die directly and had to be shot to put them out of their suffering.

Norway has a reindeer population of around 250,000, with most of them living in the country's far north.

Herders have called on the railway operator Bane NOR to install a fence along the track, but so far there has been no funding for it. According to the VG newspaper, however, the company has instructed its trains to drive more slowly in the area.

Read more:  Reindeer shortage: Will climate change ruin Christmas? 

Finland: Climate change threatens reindeer

tj/rt (AP, AFP)