Sami reindeer herders and not least their animals suffered yet another tragedy during the weekend, when a passenger train run by railway NSB plowed once again into a herd of around 80 reindeer grazing on the tracks. Around 20 had to be killed because they were so badly injured.
It’s the latest in a string of collisions between trains and the freely grazing reindeer that are, however, considered tame since they’re under herders’ control. There are no fences, however, along lengthy stretches of the tracks used by the northern train line known as Nordlandsbanen, which runs between Trondheim and Bodø. It’s often hard for herders to reach remote areas where their animals can wander, while fences are costly over such vast areas.
The latest collision occurred south of Lønsdal in Saltdal. Fences are being erected along areas of the track north of where earlier collisions occurred. Now the herders are advocating fences where Sunday’s collision killed many of their animals.
It’s up to the state agency in charge of railroad infrastructure, now called Bane Nor, to determine where fences should be set up. “Now Bane Nor must quickly get to work to hinder more of these traegedies,” the leader of the Saltfjellet reindeer district, Per Ole Oskal, told state broadcaster NRK’s Sami Radio.
Bane NOR responded that fit hadn’t evaluated fences farther south and that the reindeer herders, by equipping their animals with electronic tracking devices, could have both alerted Bane NOR to reindeer on the tracks or herded them to areas where there are fences. Debate on how to protect the reindeer is thus likely to continue.