50 Reindeer Fall Through Thin Ice and Drown

November 10, 2010 • Philip BurgessReindeer, Reindeer Herders

Reindeer froze to death after falling through ice. Pic: NRK

As many as 50 reindeer froze to death after falling through thin ice near Kautokeino, Norway yesterday according to a report in NRK Sami Radio. This is a dangerous time of year for reindeer and their herders, as although lakes and rivers are frozen, the ice is thin and liable to break.

Herders attempted to rescue the animals back to land by using a boat and walking on the ice – extremely risky work, but according to Mikkel NN Eira, as quoted in the article:

We had to and try get the animals onto land… We had to use a boat as we pushed on the ice in front of us.  When we came to areas where the ice was thin and we noticed that the ice began to break up, we had to hurry to jump in the boat. There were many times that my foot went through the ice.

Eira called it a ‘tragedy’, with some reindeer remaining locked in the water. Eira even tried bringing a reindeer inside the house to warm it up but it too succumbed to the cold. He said to NRK Sami Radio,

It was mostly females who went through and they would surely have calved.  This is a loss of at least NOK 100,000 in income.  The animals are our livelihood.