Around 2,500 reindeer died in traffic collisions last year, according to police figures, more than 1,000 more compared to 2013. And in the first weeks of January this year, a total of 431 reindeer were killed in traffic in Sweden's northern counties Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Jämtland and Västernorrland.
“I think it is terrible, both from the perspective of the animal and the reindeer herder. Both that animals actually suffer, but for our members this is an economic catastrophe. They lose their animals and in the long run that can have enormous consequences,” Jenny Wik Karlsson, a legal expert representing the Swedish Sami Association, told Sami radio and SVT Sápmi.
Herded by the indigenous Sami communities, reindeer are classified as domesticated animals, and are therefore not part of Sweden's official statistics of wildlife road deaths. However, such accidents have also increased in recent years, with more than 61,000 wildlife collisions reported in 2017.
“We are lucky, only 11 (people) were injured in wildlife accidents last year and we had no fatal accidents. But it is still distressing that the statistics are increasing and we need motorists to change their attitude,” Joakim Lundqvist, who put together the police figures for the four northern counties, told broadcasters.
Some of the deaths are caused by train collisions. Around 170 reindeer were found dead alongside the railway tracks north of Kiruna in the last two months of 2017, according to previous reports.