Reindeer in Nature
The reindeer that you meet in Utsjoki are quite timid as a rule, which is why you should keep a safe distance to the reindeer. It is important to secure peace to the reindeer around the year, but it is particularly important when the reindeer are pregnant s well as during calving time − late winter, spring and early summer. The reindeer are also at their weakest at that time after the long winter. Frightening the reindeer causes unnecessary stress to them and, in the worst case, may lead to a miscarriage of a pregnant female. The calves are usually born in May-June and start to imprint on their mothers. It is important not to separate the calf and the mother, as the small calf is very prone to peril. Even if calves are cute, please leave them in peace.
Dogs are welcome to enjoy the nature of Utsjoki. However, please keep even a nice dog on the leash, as reindeer are easily scared of dogs and a reindeer that starts to run may incite many, even surprising reactions in a dog. For example, a dog chasing pregnant reindeer may cause extensive damage in no time, and the dog owner is liable for the damage. If you intend to hunt with a dog in Utsjoki, we recommend that you contact a reindeer grazing association (Kaldoaivi, Paistunturi or Muotkatunturi reindeer grazing association depending on the hunting area) prior to your trip, so you can find out about possible on-going reindeer herding and obtain more information on their whereabouts.
When you are photographing using a camera or a drone, it is important to keep a safe distance to the reindeer. If you wish to have close-ups of the reindeer, we recommend a visit to one of the reindeer farms in Utsjoki. There you can also feed the reindeer and go to a reindeer ride, if you so wish.
If you find dead reindeer on your trip, it would be advisable to report it to the reindeer grazing association. You do not have to report mere bones, but if a carcass is found, the report may be of big help. In addition, it would be good to write down the coordinates of the location and photograph the reindeer identification marks if they can be seen, such as ear marks and the collar. The ear marks are the plastic tags and the markings made in the ear. The contact information of the reindeer owners can be found on the website of the Reindeer Herders’ Association (in Finnish only).
Autumn and winter are critical for reindeer herding in the municipality of Utsjoki. Usually in September-December and January-March, reindeer owners conduct reindeer round-ups, for which the reindeer are gathered. Separating the herd then will mean a vast amount of work, which is why dogs should be kept on a leash and the reindeer provided with space. In Utsjoki, reindeer are often fed in winter, partly to keep the herd together, which protects them from predators. That is also when separating the herd causes loads of work for the owners and may also put the reindeer at risk. The winter feeding of the reindeer continues until the snow melts.
Read here (in Finnish) about the sustainability of reindeer herding in Utsjoki.
General information on reindeer and reindeer herding can be found here.