Lonely Planet Writer

Finland's glow-in-dark reindeer to avoid crashes

While reindeer-spotting may well be one of the highlights of a trip to Finland’s Lapland region, it doesn’t always end so well for the reindeer.

Reindeer herds to become more visible in Finland.
Reindeer herds to become more visible in Finland. Image by Heather Sunderland / CC BY 2.0

Each year thousands of reindeer die in collisions with cars, a figure the Reindeer Herder’s Association is hoping to reduce with a bold and cunning new plan.

Most of the estimated 4000 reindeer deaths occur during the long-night months of November and December. This is hardly surprising: huge herds of reindeer roam freely across the sparsely populated region, which is plunged into darkness for months at a time over winter. The combination of permanent nighttime driving conditions and huge beasts wandering unexpectedly across roads is, by all accounts, a recipe for disaster. Or is it?

Finland attempt to prevent reindeer accidents with illuminating paint.
Finland attempts to prevent reindeer accidents with illuminating paint. Image by Tristan Ferne / CC BY 2.0

Local herders have come up with an innovative way to reduce the number of car-reindeer accidents: they have painted a test group of some 400 reindeer’s antlers with iridescent paint, causing them to glow in the beam of car lights. The theory being that a reindeer with glow-in-the-dark antlers is easier to avoid than one emerging from the blackness moments before a collision.

Though it’s too early to tell how effective the new approach will be, full points must be given to the herder’s association for creativity!