Several sites in the protected landscape area reveal areas that bear witness of ancient use that continue to be in active use in reindeer herding today. There are many traces of old goahti (Sámi hut or tent) sites, milking and gathering fences, in addition to the current fences that are still in use.

Reindeer in the fence. Photo: John Ivar Larsen

Reindeer arrive at Koppangen in April. Photo: Oddrun Skjemstad

Reindeer go grazing all year and eat what nature has to offer in the different seasons. During the spring and summer, the reindeer make use of the fresh greenery that grows as the snow disappears along the mountainsides. During the summer, the reindeer move to the high mounts to avoid insects and to graze in peace. In the late summer, the reindeer travel down to lower mountain areas and hollows.

The reindeer eat plants such as herbs, grass and sedge that have grown through the summer, including the mushrooms of fall. The reindeer strongly prefer lichen, something unique to them in Nordic fauna. Lichen are both easy to digest and energy-rich for the reindeer. Lichen is toxic to other animals, so the reindeer have this delicacy all to themselves. Reindeer lichen, thorn cladonia, Iceland moss and gulskinn (flavocetraria nivalis) are the most important, but lichen that grow on old pine and birch trees are also important, particularly in challenging winter grazing conditions.

Reindeer herd . Photo: Per Ivan Vatne

Reindeer in Tverrdalen. Photo: Oddrun Skjemstad

When encountering reindeer

Meeting a reindeer herd up close is a wonderful experience:

  • Keep your dog on a leash. Reindeer may perceive a running dog as a threatening predator on the hunt. Leashes are mandatory in the period from 1 April – 20 August. In the municipality of Lyngen, there is an extended leash law until after 15 October. In the municipality of Balsfjord, there is an extended leash law until after 31 October. Outside of the leash law period, you are still obligated to keep your dog under control. Loose-running dogs can harm wild animals as well as grazing sheep and reindeer.
  • Take a detour when you see grazing reindeer.
  • Crouch down and weight until the reindeer have passed if a herd is coming towards you.
  • In the spring, the reindeer are particularly vulnerable and the females are calving. We must then show extra concern: Stop and wait, turn around and take another path if necessary!