Farmer Reidar Stenberg, who’s raising around 200 goats on his mountain property at the foot of Hallingskarvet, is fed up with tourists who steal the bells that hang around the necks of some of his free-grazing animals. Such theft is “totally disrespectful,” claims the farmers’ national organization Norges Bondelaget.
Stenberg operates the Presthold Geitestøl in the mountains and said he’s felt forced to give up the bell tradition that defines and leads his herds of grazing goats. “Tourists lure the goats with some sweets or other food,” he said. “Then it’s easy for them to steal the bells.”
He noted that goats are “very sociable” animals and not as likely to be scared off as sheep and lambs. The goat wearing the bell is considered the leader of the herd, and stealing its bell degrades them.
Hege Gonsholt, member of the farmers’ organization in Telemark, stressed how bells are attached to grazing animals for a reason and aren’t simply decorative. Goat bells also have a different ring than the bells placed on cattle and sheep. “It’s totally disrespectful for anyone to take the bells as a souvenir,” she told state broadcaster NRK.