Reindeer Death Toll Continues To Climb In Norway

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A Norwegian freight train struck 17 reindeer on Nov. 29, marking the ninth incident within a week. People are calling on the national railway to do more to protect the animals in light of the 110 reindeer that have already died.

The first eight collisions occurred between Nov. 22 and Nov. 25, ABC News reports. The last train in that four-day period killed 65 reindeer.

"It was a bloodbath," said 59-year-old reindeer herder Torstein Appfjell, recounting the most deadly of the recent incidents to The New York Times. "I have been a herder all my life, since boyhood, and I have never seen anything like the scene on Saturday night."

Bane NOR, the nation's railway company, notified Appfjell and three other herders of the accidents.

Appfjell arrived to find several reindeer with mangled limbs and backs, some of which were still trying to get up. He had to shoot 15 of the reindeer to put them out of their pain.

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"It hurts, because we know each and every one of our animals," Appfjell said. "When you herd, you see things like this often and you put your feelings aside. But this particular scene will be burned into the retina of my eyes forever. Sixty-five animals in one crash -- it's a catastrophe."

Bane NOR confirmed the Nov. 29 incident occurred about 12 miles from the last one. According to ABC News, the cause of the crash is not yet known, but the railway the company previously stated that the earlier collisions were due to a miscommunication with train drivers. The drivers were reportedly unaware of the animals' presence on the tracks and did not slow down as a result. Usually, drivers are notified about migrating animals near the tracks and slow down to avoid hitting them.

Indigenous people and animal protection groups have repeatedly called on Bane NOR to build better fences around its tracks.

"Trains killing deer, elk and other animals in Norway has been a gruesome problem in Norway for years," Live Kleveland, a lawyer and spokesperson for the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance, told The New York Times. "It is gruesome, because many animals are not killed instantly, but are bruised and suffer a long time before they are put to death, or die on their own."

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ABC News reports that 3,372 reindeer, sheep and moose have been killed along the 453-mile stretch of railroad since 2013.

Bane NOR announced it would build a 15-mile fence along the most dangerous areas of railroad and expand an already existing fence. The project will cost around $4.15 million.

Sources: The New York Times, ABC News / Featured Image: SRS scandiline/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Arnstein Ronning/Wikimedia Commons, David Gubler/Wikimedia Commons

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