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Pregnant reindeer death shock: 'they all exploded'

10 May 2012, 15:22

Published: 10 May 2012 15:22 GMT+02:00

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"It's just terrible," Kjell-Åke Pittsa, chair of the Unna Tjerusj Sami village to which the herd belonged, told The Local.

"All of them jumped off the cliff and plunged to their deaths."

The grisly discovery was made on Wednesday by a reindeer herder who traveled up in the mountainous region on the edge of the Stora Sjöfallet National Park following several days of harsh weather to check on the condition of the reindeer.

According to Pittsa, the reindeer were in the midst of calving when the tragedy occurred.

"They were all about to give birth," he said.

Pittsa explained that there is only one plausible culprit for the mass reindeer death.

"They were hunted by a wolverine and were driven into a panic and had nowhere to go but over the cliff," he said.

He theorized as well that a mixture of poor visibility and panic may have resulted in the frenzied reindeer failing to realize they were heading toward the cliff as they fled from the menacing wolverine.

While it remains unclear exactly how many reindeer perished in the incident, Pittsa estimated that around 30 animals died when they slammed into the ground below.

According to Pittsa, the precipice from which the reindeer leapt has an elevation of 1,200 metres, while the ledge onto which they crashed has an elevation of around 400 metres, meaning the reindeer flew about 800 metres to their deaths.

"They just exploded," he said, adding that the hillside was also strewn with the remains of unborn reindeer.

"Every black dot you see in the pictures is a piece of reindeer."

The incident has left Pittsa and other members of the Unna Tjerusj Sami village shaken.

Story continues below…

"Nothing like this has ever happened to us before," he said.

"When a predator gets a single reindeer, that's something we can accept. But this is really tough."

David Landes

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Your comments about this article

16:36 May 10, 2012 by Bob Jacobson
Why are they so certain it was a wolverine? It sounds strange that reindeer accustomed to dealing with predators in mountainous terrain would not have an alternative way to deal with a wolverine besides all committing suicide.
16:56 May 10, 2012 by millionmileman
First we have Lemmings now Raindeer. What is this Swedish animal phenomena?
17:13 May 10, 2012 by Insweden
I like Sami people, but I have to admit they are always very quick in blaming predators for any possible problem. What happened seems very strange to me. Knowing a little bit about nature myself, I'd rather be careful to talk about a wolverine related problem.
17:48 May 10, 2012 by jack sprat
Obviously something spooked them and as a herd they reacted and panicked together as one,a normal reaction, even though they may not all have been aware of what the supposed threat actually was.

Bad visibility could have played a part, so even if the leaders spotted the dangerous drop at the last moment,the momentum of the unsighted followers would carry them all over.

I've seen similar reactions in herds of deer, though not in the vicinity of a 1200 mtr cliff and not with such tragic consequences, which were obviously dictated by the circumstances.
18:18 May 10, 2012 by Opinionfool

Where was the Disney film crew hiding this time? That lemming scene was entirely out of Walt's head. So which one of them thought that forcing pregnant reindeer over a cliff would make for a good film this time.
21:31 May 10, 2012 by johan rebel
Why are they blaming a predator? Because the Swedish taxpayer has to pay for each and every reindeer killed by one, that's why!
00:18 May 11, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
A low flying helicopter is the likely culprit.
06:29 May 11, 2012 by calebian22
And here is the link that shows why Johan Rebel is absolutely correct.

16:27 May 11, 2012 by tadchem
Look for a VERY wel-fed wolverine.
15:18 May 12, 2012 by skylarkpilot
And I thought it was only Swedish people that had suicidal tendencies !
16:23 May 14, 2012 by Yeshua Norge
It instantly reminded me of the Biblical account when Jesus met a demon possessed man as recorded in Matthew 8:28-34.

Two men who were possessed by demons met Jesus. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area.

They began screaming at him, "Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God's appointed time?"

There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, "If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs."

"All right, go!" Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

Additionally, there has been an increase in UFO activity in Sweden lately. It certainly is very strange and very much out of the ordinary.
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