Forty-eight reindeer in northern Sweden have been killed after being hit by a train they were trying to outrun, according to transport officials.
The reindeer, which are important for many people’s livelihoods in the remote north of the country, were killed on Saturday just outside the village of Kaitum in Laponia. A reindeer rancher from the region told reporters that the incident was “not pretty”.
Close calls by speeding trains occur frequently as herds of reindeer migrate during the winter months in search of food. However, regional transport official Fredrik Rosendahl said that in this instance it seems like the herd unknowingly walked onto the snow-covered tracks before being startled by the train.
He explained that when reindeers are being followed by cars they usually run in front of them rather than move to one side, pointing out that when a train requires more than a kilometer to come to a standstill the accident is practically unavoidable.
Reindeer herders in the north have been complaining about the impact increased rail traffic has had on the animals for some time. In 2012, an estimated 200 reindeer were killed in the first three months after a high-speed railway line was put in place, with one herder referring to it as a “meat grinder”.