Sami traditions, Norwegian Law

November 11, 2008 • Philip BurgessReindeer, Reindeer Herders

(Pic. Finnmark Dagblad) Today the Supreme court in Norway will hear the question as to how best to kill a reindeer, as reported in Finnmark Dagblad. The case goes back to 2005, when a reindeer herder in the Kvalsund area killed a reindeer by inserting a knife directly into a reindeer’s heart which, the herder argued through his lawyer was an age old customary tradition. The herder  was acquitted in the Inner Finnmark tingrett, but was sentenced in the Hålogaland lagmannsrett and found to have infringed the Animal Act. As a result he was fined 5000 NOK (570 Euros). The law states that the animal should be unconscious before death or it will suffer unnecessarily.

You can read the Hålogaland decision here (Norwegian)

At the time, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority stated their satisfaction with the ruling,

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is satisfied that the decision in the lagmann is so unambiguous and clear.There can no longer be any doubt that the Animal Act requirement also applies to the killing of reindeer. We expect that this verdict will help to end any other illegal ways to kill reindeer.

The knife into the heart method is not uncommon for reindeer peoples around the world (for example Chukotka), as peoples have used different methods to kill reindeer in different regions. The Reindeer Portal and Reindeer Blog will continue to follow this story.