Deer farmers try their hardest to keep their animals from being injured or killed, sometimes erecting high fences or using bright ear tags, or both.
But some are trying new ideas including shiny antlers that glow in the dark.
Some reindeer herders in Finland have begun trying reflective, fluorescent dye applied to their stocks’ fur or antlers in an effort to avoid vehicle collisions. Reindeer are found in northern Europe; they’re called caribou in North America. Reindeer farming is legal in some European countries.
One of the biggest challenges appears to be what formula of the dye will stand up to the terribly cold winter conditions. Many of the reindeer farmers are in Lapland, which is in northern Finland. The farmers are able to sell the meat, milk, hides and other parts of the reindeer. Similar to white-tail deer, the meat is lean and eaten by many at home or in restaurants in Europe.
As in America, vehicle collisions are a problem. Farmers lose thousands of deer a year to collisions. Anne Ollila, executive director with the Finnish Reindeer Herder’s Association, said so far, about 20 reindeer have antlers with reflective paint. The farmers are watching these animals to see if the dye stands up to the weather, banging around with other reindeer, how well it reflects off bright lights and if the dye bothers the animals.
“The spray is being tried on their fur, but it is maybe more effective on their antlers because the reflection can be seen in every direction,” Ollila told Finnish broadcaster YLE.
The farmers have tried reflective tape and collars, she said. The reindeer tore them off. Signs posted for drivers to be aware of reindeer are stolen, Ollila also said, as souvenirs. If successful, animals with glittering antlers will be free to roam Lapland — a vast, deserted area in northern Finland where herders tend to some 200,000 reindeer.
Northern Scandinavian reindeer herders are comprised mostly of the indigenous Saami, whose livelihood comes from the animals. Reindeer have been kept as livestock for thousands of years in Russia and Scandinavia.