Icelandic Reindeer Move Further North Skip to content

Icelandic Reindeer Move Further North

Icelandic reindeer have until now almost solely been found in east Iceland but recent studies indicate that they are now moving further to the north and before long they might become permanent residents of the country’s northeastern region.


Icelandic reindeer. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

In 2009, GPS monitors were placed on 12 reindeer to study where they go for pastures. Last year, one of the female animals transmitted signals close to the lagoon Hafralón on Thistilsfjardarheidi, near Thistilsfjördur in the northeast, reports.

This year it returned to the area. The reindeer belongs to a herd numbering 300-400 animals. “They are obviously nosing about in a new pasture and of course we hope that they will increase in the area and settle down,” said Skarphédinn Thórisson, an expert in reindeer at the East Iceland Institute of Natural History.

Thórisson said through the years reindeer have been spotted in Thistilfjördur but in recent years it had become very uncommon. He added it is possible to influence the reindeers’ habitat by controlling hunting in a specialized manner.

This is done by “limiting hunting in Area 1—of the animals that roam mostly to the north of [the river] Jökulsá á Dal,” Thórisson explained.

“If those animals increase they will seek northwards where there are lush heaths which could accommodate a number of reindeer without having to compete with sheep on pastures,” he concluded.

Click here to read more about the GPS monitoring of reindeer.


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