GPS used in reindeer herding

March 12, 2009 • Philip BurgessReindeer Herders

Vapsten Sami village in Sweden has been granted state aid which enables them to test new methods in monitoring reindeer. Now, the reindeer will be fitted with GPS transmitters.

Jon Mikkal Labba, the leader of the Vapsten Sami village, says that he begins his working day by turning on the computer, to see how the reindeer behave and where they are.

I can see if it the reindeers move a lot and then I know that there is interference, either predators or other things, and then we can concentrate on that area during the day.

Currently, Vapsten have 30 GPS transmitters in one siida (winter group) and Labba thinks that that it is a good number.

I think it works very well

Jon Mikael Labba says that they have chosen to have the transmitters on large females, because the transmitters are rather clumsy, so the reindeer must be large.

It is an entirely new approach that is under development in reindeer herding. Jon Mikkal Labba admits that, in this way, he may lose contact with nature and the traditional way of practicing reindeer husbandry. But he believes that the old knowledge about how reindeer behave in the wild is not always useful in today’s reindeer because nature has changed.

Nature is so altered due to forestry, so that you can not say more how the reindeer are, and in this way we get a better insight how the land looks like and we are in different areas from year to year and use large areas.

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