Specially adapted to a life in the mountains
Do your legs tire when you’re hiking? Imagine being a wild reindeer. Apart from when they eat or sleep, they are constantly on the move. Crossing great distances searching for food. Fortunately, they have specially adapted hooves carrying them in difficult terrain and perfect for digging through the snow to find lichen. Their fur is also special. Every hair is filled with air. The combination of this and their woolly undercoat creates an isolating layer which means the animals can survive extreme conditions.
In Norway we have a special responsibility to protect the wild reindeer, as they are a National Responsibility Species. When humans build roads and cabins on the mountains, ever increasing parts of their living areas are lost. Therefore, we need to protect the remaining wild reindeer areas, like Forollhogna.
Forollhogna: The northernmost wild reindeer area
Today, Forollhogna is the northernmost wild reindeer area in Norway. This area has previously been used for Sami domesticated reindeer herding. The wild reindeer’s summer and winter pastures are intact, both the mountains and valleys are important living areas, also outside of the national park borders. Where the animals are found throughout the year depends on weather- and snow-conditions. Good pastures with calcareous soil have led to the wild reindeer in Forollhogna being known as large with impressive antlers. The hunting licences are therefore very sought after.
The vulnerable herd
Male reindeer use their antlers to fight each other to win the female reindeer during the rutting season. When winter comes, they shed their impressive adornments. The females retain theirs to secure good winter pastures and protect the calves that are born in spring. The whole herd of wild reindeer is vulnerable, and we must behave with caution to help protect them. They are shy and it takes little to disturb them from grazing and resting. Keep a considerable distance and move slowly away from the area if you discover wild reindeer.
Protection and measures
Protecting the wild reindeer is one of the main reasons for establishing Forollhogna National Park. The protection is meant to sustain the intact areas for grazing and secure the animals’ living conditions. Activities and traffic are regulated to avoid more roads, cabins and other installations which may disturb the wild reindeer and other wildlife being built. Facilitating further nature activities is not prioritized in this national park.
Following the wild reindeer’s traces
The wild reindeer came to Norway after the last Ice Age, more than 10 000 years ago. Following them were humans, wanting to make use of the animals’ meat, bones, and antlers. There are a lot of cultural heritage sites connected to the hunter-gatherers on the mountain plateaus, also in Forollhogna. Hollows in the ground are often remnants of pitfalls they dug to trap the wild reindeer. Small arched stone walls are old hunting hides, and several archaeological artefacts like tips of arrows and speers, and sticks used for scaring animals into the trappings systems have been found in the area.
Hunting the wild reindeer
Wild reindeer are considered an endangered species, but they are still being hunted. This is to regulate the population. Hunting is allowed between 20 August and 20 September, and you are likely to meet wild reindeer hunters during this period. The hunt regulates the number of animals so that they have enough food during the year, and it helps prevent disease. Hunting the wild reindeer is an important activity for those who live here and contributes to local economic growth.