In the northern arctic lands of Finland, around 300,000 reindeer wander freely as part of the region’s animal husbandry business. But, as the Finns have found, the free-wandering reindeer and Lapland’s road infrastructure don’t mix.
The Finnish government has tried to reduce the 4,000 annual reindeer deaths with movable traffic signs, reflector necklaces, and fluorescent-painted antlers, as we reported last year. But none of the measures have been overly successful.
Now, the Finns are starting a pilot program for truckers to test out a new app that warns drivers when reindeer have been reported nearby, and allows drivers to to tap the screen when they see a reindeer near the road, to warn others.
If the pilot program is a success, the application will be available to download on smartphones later this year.
The Finns are hopeful that this strategy will help reduce the number of reindeer deaths. The past programs have been unsuccessful for various reasons; people stole the traffic signs, and drivers found the reflective paint confusing, not realizing that it was a reindeer standing near the road. The reindeer ripped off the necklaces and rubbed off the paint.
"Somehow the reindeer know they had paint on their antlers — maybe their friends laughed at them," Anne Ollila, director of the Finnish Reindeer Herders' Association, told The Associated Press.