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December 15, 2014

CityMetric Advent 15: Finland has glow-in-the-dark road safety reindeer

By City Monitor Staff

Every year, between 3,000 and 5,000 reindeer are killed on Finland’s roads. This is a disaster from an environmental protection point of view, but it’s also bad news for drivers: reindeers are tall and heavy, so a collision leaves both car and deer in a bad way. The reduced numbers must also must make recruitment for Santa’s fleet pretty tricky.

So the Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association (yes, that is a thing) have come up with a plan. Since February, they’ve been trialling a reflective paint on 20 reindeer’s antlers in Rovaniemi, the capital of the Lapland region.

The paint is sprayed onto the reindeer’s antlers, and reflects the light from car headlights to rather terrifying effect:

A (probably not possessed) reflective reindeer. Image: Reindeer Herders’ Association.

OK, this one is definitely possessed. Image: Reindeer Herders’ Association.

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If the test is successful, the Herders’ Association will spray the paint on reindeer across the country.

Previous attempts to make the deer more visible have included reflective tape, which peeled off in the cold, and reflective collars, which many of the deer ripped off themselves.   

In Norway, which also has a problem with deer road fatalities, scientists have developed a biodegradable reflective cuff (made of corn, bizarrely) which is attached to reindeer antlers. The Public Roads Administration has also installed “disco poles” near roads, which flash and make loud noises to scare off elk. It is to our eternal regret that we could not find a picture of said disco poles – you’ll just have to use your imagination. 

H/T Works that Work magazine.

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