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Feeding Reindeer in Norway

For our birthday, we took a bus from Tromsø to the mainland and then northeast to a village where the native people of northern Scandinavia (the Sami) live and herd reindeer.

They have over 350 reindeer that they feed in the winter and then let wild in the summer because climate change has made it hard for the reindeer to find food (instead of snow through which they can dig to find food underground, it rains and then freezes over). So for the past ten years, they have been feeding reindeer and getting tourists to pay to feed reindeer so the populations do not starve.

The reindeer were fun and would hit each other out of the way with their antlers to get at our food buckets. I do have a slightly sore forearm from getting in the way of such an attack. I was surprised though that they would take a bite and then walk away so someone else could get in. Seemed awfully nice of them.

You may be surprised as I was to learn that the antlered reindeer here are for the most part females. The males shed their antlers every year and grow them back in the spring. I tried to pet one as I was feeding it, but reindeer don't like to be touched. Apparently, they don't like the smell of humans (I was wearing deodorant, I promise), so they just walk away if you put your hand out.

We also took a little sled ride with the reindeer, which was arguably too cold. The feeding was definitely the most fun bit.

For lunch, the Sami cuisine options were vegetable or reindeer stew. Naturally, we both chose vegetable...


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