The Green Warriors of Norway today sent demands to the Ministry of Climate and the Environment for a ban on ski sailing/kiting near winter pastures, calving areas and migration routes in all our 23 wild reindeer areas.
If the wild reindeer is to survive as a species, the serious situation the wild reindeer find themselves in must be taken very seriously. The administrative authorities and all affected municipalities must ensure that the wild reindeer have the necessary "untouched" area for their nomadic way of life. We know that such a restriction of human use of nature will conflict with the Right of All, but taking care of nature and its species must be the "Duty of All".
Ski sailing/kiting in the wrong areas is a disaster for the wild reindeer. "The man with the giant eagle" can quickly become the scourge of the animals.
Humans have hunted wild reindeer for 10 thousands of years. The reindeer have therefore developed a survival strategy that affects everything from herd size, choice of grazing and calving areas and not least escape behaviour. The wild reindeer fear man as they fear wolves, wolverines and golden eagles. The combination of humans, great speed and the "giant eagle" in the sky will appear extremely dangerous for the wild reindeer.
The wild reindeer perform as it has always done, but human influence means that the areas available to them are being divided and, in addition, constantly shrinking. What we see as huge areas of untouched nature appear to the wild reindeer as a small "blob". They have innate needs and characteristics that make the wild reindeer one of the animals that are able to carry out the longest seasonal migrations that terrestrial animals do. Our demands for power resources, roads/railways and holiday homes create most of the permanent obstacles the wild reindeer encounter and which split up the areas that are available. The reindeer avoid areas with a lot of human activity. Holiday homes in themselves are not a big problem. The reindeer can graze close to the house wall, as long as there are no people there. Here, as with smaller mountain roads, it is the extent of use and the degree of human disturbance that determine how decisive the obstacle will be.
Human use of nature has become significantly larger and many new groups of users have been added. The number of natural users in the wild reindeer's areas who constantly penetrate deeper into the animals' territories contributes to destroying the opportunities for the wild reindeer to carry out their natural seasonal migrations between grazing areas/calving areas which have been inherited over thousands of years.
Veidemann's way of thinking is still found in a number of traditional outdoor people and hunting, fishing and berry picking are for this group a natural part of nature use, but it is put under pressure by a drastically changing outdoor life. More and more nature users with little or no knowledge of nature will now use it, which entails an ever greater burden on nature and the species that live there. New technology such as extreme clothing, kites, ski equipment, bicycles (with and without a motor) and modern activities have brought about new trends in human use of nature and human impact. Dog sledding is also becoming increasingly popular and the dog teams naturally have the ability to penetrate deep into the reindeer areas. Here, the administrative authorities/municipalities should also be vigilant and possibly also introduce restrictions or arrangements for the use of suitable areas.
In some areas the use is of marked/branched trails so large that the wild reindeer will not approach. Far less cross such "paths". In Rondane and on Hardangervidda, 95% follows routes marked by the walkers. It is then worth noting that paths used by more than 30 people per day disturb the wild reindeer to the extent that they stay further away from the path. It crosses the path less often, so that the path eventually becomes a barrier.
Nevertheless, traffic is on foot or on cross-country skis possible to manage through sensible land management, where consideration for the wild reindeer must count more than human wishes and interests. It is possible to change the hiking trails, both in summer and winter, to take account of and facilitate the wild reindeer to make side walks between summer/winter pastures and calving areas. Norwegian mountain areas in the west can offer good summer pastures. In winter, the areas in the east have the best access to winter pasture. There have been migration routes between these areas since time immemorial, something that is well documented especially through hunting records. Our human barriers divide the living areas and thereby weaken the mountain areas' ability to provide the animals with what they need to maintain good condition, nutrition and reproduction. Human disturbance leads to loss of grazing time due to constant vigilance with associated escape response.
The reindeer's food supply is at its lowest throughout the winter, which means that the animals are at their weakest and most vulnerable at this time. That the animals reach the winter pastures and are allowed to be in peace there is therefore of significant importance for survival, birth rates and calf weight. But skiers/kiters want large white expanses and away from marked routes. They can move far into untouched reindeer areas quietly, quickly and with the "giant eagle" in the sky above them. A ski hiker who encounters wild reindeer may just run away, but the giant in the sky will scare them from miles away. The skier may not have even seen the reindeer, but the animals have seen the kite, and it moves fast! The result of such a "meeting" between skiers/kiters and wild reindeer will often trigger a panic reaction in the wild reindeer. This will of course stress the already weakened animals, prevent them from being able to graze, increase their energy consumption, chase them away from their accustomed routes, but it can also result in the animals making bad road choices which in turn can cost them their lives. Off cliffs, into landslide-prone areas, etc. The management must try to avoid the wild reindeer being disturbed throughout the winter.
We do not want ski sailors/kiters to die! We want to save the Norwegian wild reindeer tribes. Unfortunately, it is often the case that skiers/kiters search for the same areas as the wild reindeer. Where interests intersect, someone must give way. For people, it is play, recreation and experiencing nature. For the wild reindeer, it is a question of survival. It is therefore obvious that it should not be the wild reindeer that must give way!
It must be acceptable to divert and change routes so that you can protect the wild reindeer's winter pastures and migration routes leading up to them. It will be important for all users of the mountain, but it is particularly important with regard to skiers/kiters. As a concrete example of a move that should easily be made on the Hardangervidda: It may have to be expedient and sensible to shield the areas south of RV7. In the areas north of RV7, due to the CWD situation, it is not desirable for wild reindeer to stay and ski sailing/kiting can be "positive". In other wild reindeer areas, it will be possible to make other adaptations.
Where the reindeer have migratory routes, winter pastures and calving areas should be well known in all our reindeer areas. There must therefore be simple measures that can be taken to give the wild reindeer peace during the winter.
The Green Warriors of Norway hereby asks the ministry to put in place the necessary provisions for such a ban as soon as possible. Especially for Hardangervidda, it is urgent. The wild reindeer must rest this winter!