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  • Johan Wildhagen / Visit Norway

Reindeer

Summer is a time of preparation for all arctic animals, including reindeer. Both does (female reindeer) and bucks (male reindeer) carry antlers and shed them every year. New antlers grow from May until they are full-grown in September; fur is then shed and the reindeer look unkempt. During the summer reindeer gather their strengths and build up their fat reserve to brace for the tough winter ahead.

About 10 % of the Sami population own reindeer. Every reindeer owner has its individual reindeer mark that they inherited from their parents or grandparents. Earmarking of reindeer takes place during the summer. There are approximately 500 various reindeer marks in Karasjok and about 60,000 reindeer are herding on the pastures of the municipality during the autumn and winter months.

The month of May is referred to as ‘the calving month’ in Sami because this is when does give birth to fawns. The names of the remaining months are related to reindeer husbandry also. Reindeer herds are moved to the coastal areas in April and they return in September/October. Every part of a reindeer is consumed. Meat is eaten raw, dried or smoked; leather is used for clothing, while lasso rings, knives and other items are made out of bones and antlers.