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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  • Inger-Ann Omma

    I want to comment the news about GPS-transmitters on our reindeer. Our saami village was NOT granted state aid for the costs for the transmitters. The transmitters are paid with compensation from exploiters that have damed up rivers etc in our area. The compensations are however handeled by the Saami Parliament in Sweden, but are nontheless to regard as compensation.

  • Reindeer Blog

    Thank you Inger-Ann Omma for your comment and for helping us with correcting the blog news! We apologize if we understood the article, where we first found the news about the GPS transmitters on your reindeer, in a wrong way.

    /Reindeer Blog

  • Harri Norberg

    Hei! We are just about to start working with similar project here in Finland, in the southeastern reindeer management area with acute predation problem. It would be great to see some links or newspaper articles (if in www better!) about the Swedish projects in Vilhelmina Norra and Vapsten. We will certainly forward information on our development to this blog, as soon as we get things running and some experience gathered.

  • Harri Norberg

    Oh, my email address is Any information would be highly appreciated. Tack!

  • Reindeer Blog

    Hallo Harri and thanks for your comment to the blog!
    Unfortunately we do not at the moment have any more articles about the GPS project in Vapsten and Vilhelmina Norra Sami villages in Sweden. But if we get over something, we will send you it. You are very welcome to forward information on your development to our blog, we look forward to that!

    /Reindeer Blog