Collecting the reindeers


The reindeers owned by the Sámi, the indeginous people of Norway, live in the mountains all the year. They roam freely, like the wild reindeer, but a few times during the year they are collected by the herders.


When I was visiting last week it was the end of the slaughtering season. These animals belongs to two groups that cooperate about the work in this time of the year, Saanti Sijte and Gåbrien Sijte. Both groups belongs to the South Sámi of Norway.




First the reindeers are collected in a large fence. From there smaller groups of animals are chased into a much smaller fence where they can be separeted. For some the fate are sealed, some will be let free again.




The herds are big, and the works goes on and one, for days and weeks. There are more photos in my photo gallery from Harsjøen, Røros.


49 thoughts on “Collecting the reindeers

  1. I collect (sometimes) Firefly stuff . . . this looks like a lot more work.

    . . . and, looking at the gallery, I still marvel at the fact people are not being gored (accidentally or not) with all those animals moving about.

    . . . certainly, were I a reindeer, I’d want to take a few people with me before I go to the slaughter. Then again, reindeer might not be as vindictive.


    1. Fireflies, that will be a different method I guess. Reindeers are not vindictive, as far as I know they only fight in the mating season (the oxes). They are made to flee from danger, but if they remember to turn against a dog or something (and not flee), they could probably do some harm. If a person gets harmed it would be pure accident. They are like angels floating around you. But I know what you mean, Disperser, I would probably not go voluntarily either….


    1. Some have tried horses here too, in the summertime, but the nature is either too wet or too steep and stony. In winter they use snowmobiles to collect them in the mountains and to bring them to the enclosure. Before the 1970’ties they used skies.


      1. Just the same as we love eating chicken but hate to see them get killed. That’s life, and it includes death. I’m glad you showed us both sides of the reindeer story.


    1. There are a lot of reindeers in Norway. About 250.000 Sámi reindeers, but most of them in the north, in Finnmark. In this county there are less than 14.000 during winter. There are also some wild reindeers, but only in the southern mountains.


  2. “For some the fate are sealed, some will be let free again.”

    feeling sorry about reindeers, but there at this place, is only reindeer who feeds humans! great pictures Bente.


  3. These photo makes for a beautiful essay captured in pictures. The light is gorgeous and the colours almost unearthly. It does look like freezing cold. I really like how you have captured the caribous, the herders, their activity and the landscape they belong to, in broad strokes.


    1. It was freeeeeeezing, Otto (-22-24C), and almost unearthly colours thanks to this cold. The caribous are bigger, like everything else in America. The European reindeer is quite small, but nice.


    1. They are specialists for this nature and climate, Montucky. But of course, they really need some fresh, green plants when spring comes. The size of the herds are regulated by the state. That also goes for wild reindeers, where the numbers are regulated by traditional hunting.


  4. Oddly enough we saw reindeer last month in South Georgia. They were introduced long ago and sadly have proved a problem in the local eco-sysyem to the extent that they too will meet a similar fate. Wonderful creatures though. Thank you for sharing these lovely images.


    1. The reindeers were introduced as food for norwegian whalers. Just a few, now there are thousands. All of them will be killed, this year and next year, as they are an alien species to this part of the world. This will take place with the help of Sámi people. Sad, but the animals are a threat to the natural ecosystem.


  5. Beautiful creatures – the reindeer do seem like angels floating around you. Do the Sámi eat all of the meat or do they sell some of it? I love seeing the moon in the sky in the last picture.


    1. They sell most of it, and eat what they need. A hundred years or so ago they lived with their reindeers in the mountains, moving around. Now they have houses, cars etc, and needs income like the rest of us to pay the bills. Because of this the herds are bigger than in the old days. Glad you liked the moon, Barbara.


  6. It just hurts my heart knowing some of these animals are going to slaughtered. I understand the reason behind it but it still hurt. On the other hand, these are beautiful photos and an interesting post.


  7. Bente, you’ve captured some amazing footage. Interesting comments too – are they all to be culled over the next few years? Would they have been naturally occurring further north, and migratory?


      1. Thanks for the explanation Bente, and for the link to the excellent website on the wild reindeer. I had a hazy notion that there was a migratory route, but think i’ve got the species confused with the Caribou in Alaska. I found the conservation and preservation ethic on the wild reindeer thought provoking – especially the ‘five pillars’ for the long term vision – 2030 and beyond.


      2. Yes, this is very interesting, but also a big challange to Norway: Will there be reindeers in Europe’s last wild reindeer mountains in the future? And by the way, both the wild and the sámi reindeers have migratory routes. They are just not that long, because modern society needs more and more land for roads, buildings etc.


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