A few weeks back I made a post from visiting the reindeer herders in this area and they were marking the calves that time, as they always do in July. For different reasons i didn’t do the follow up, unntil now. Here are a few photos that shows how the South Sámi people of Norway work with the reindeers during summer. In the picture above they are looking at the herd too see what calf belongs to mother reindeer. All the calves have a number around the neck, and they connect them by looking at the ears. All the adult animals have the owners mark cut in the ear, and they recognize them from a distance on running reindeers. That is impressive.
When all the calves are identified, the herd is collected in a medium sized enclosure. From there small groups of reinders are led to a small enclosure were the marking can begin. The owner of every calf will cut their mark in the ears. In addition they have to put a plastic identification in the ears too. The same system as for sheep and cows.
The marking is a time when all the sámi goes to the mountains to participate. Also the children helps in catching the calves. Some of them have also started to learn how to cut their own mark. In this group there are about ten herders who owns the majority of the herd. But every family member usually have some reindeers of their own.
All this might seem kind of brutal to some of you. I will say not. This is traditional life, and the piercing of the reindeer ears are one of just very few times, and for quite a short time, that the animals are in contact with humans. Most of the year they live exactly like the wild reindeers. That is roaming huge areas of wilderness to find food that is scarce in winter, and abundant in summer. At least in this part of the country. I also made a short video from my visit:
After the marking, every reindeer is let loose, to run back into the mountains. Want to know more? Here are some information about reindeer herding, but the descriptions are from the far north of Norway. Here is a link to more photos from the marking, and also some in black & white. And a link to all my sámi and reindeer photos.