Reindeer husbandry takes place in nearly 140 of Norway’s municipalities, extending over an area that makes up about 40 per cent of Norway’s territory. We have 240,000 domestic reindeer in spring herds, of which 180,000 are in Finnmark. Variations in reindeer husbandry south of Finnmark are small year on year, while the number of reindeer in Finnmark can vary at times. Calving, loss and removal for slaughter are some of the reasons for these variations. Just under 3,000 people are involved in Sami reindeer husbandry.
Organisation of reindeer husbandry
Reindeer husbandry is practised primarily in the Sami reindeer grazing area, which extends from Finnmark in the north down to Hedmark in the south. This area is divided into six regional Sami reindeer grazing areas and a further 72 summer and year-round grazing districts, as well as 10 districts that are used for grazing in autumn and winter alone, for Norwegian reindeer and/or for grazing for Swedish reindeer herding.
Groups of reindeer owners bring reindeer together into joint herds across designated areas and manage them together. These management groups are called “siida” in Northern Sami and “sijte” in Southern Sami. In recent years, there have been just under 100 summer siidas, and roughly 150 winter siidas. Each siida is split into siida units, which each have a designated leader. Reindeer within the Sami reindeer grazing areas must have the earmark of the owner. Initially, only people of Sami ethnic origin are entitled to a reindeer earmark.
Non-Sami reindeer husbandry is practised in Hedmark, Nord-Gudbrandsdalen and Valdres in Oppland county. This reindeer husbandry requires special permissions under the Norwegian Reindeer Herding Act.
Rendal Renselskap has a special mode of operations based on the population control of privately owned animals in Rendalen, Engerdal and Trysil. Swedish reindeer husbandry enjoys a right of use of designated areas in Norway, from Troms to the northernmost parts of Hedmark.
Reindeer husbandry administration by the County Governor
The County Governor must help municipalities to achieve the overarching objectives set out in reindeer husbandry policy. We must, among other things, monitor the establishment and movement of siida units, offer advice in fencing matters, approve rules of use developed by the district boards, grant exemptions from the grazing rules where there are compelling grounds for doing so, where necessary establish grazing times for the seasonal grazing areas and make statements and lodge oppositions for cases in accordance with the Planning and Building Act.
The Reindeer Husbandry Agreements
The Reindeer Husbandry Agreements are annual negotiations between the Reindeer Herders Association of Norway and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food regarding financial resources for reindeer husbandry.
The County Governor is responsible for administering funding regionally in accordance with the Reindeer Husbandry Agreement. The Norwegian Agriculture Agency is responsible for the main payments made to the siida units.
The County Governor is also responsible for providing resources for preventive measures against damage caused by large predators, measures to reduce conflicts and compensation for reindeer killed by predators who enjoy a protected status. Learn more about this in the “Environment and Climate” section of the County Governor for your county.