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Regulations to Keep Herds Small May Destroy Reindeer Herding



(p. A6) Jovsset Ante Sara, a boyish-looking 26-year-old, knows his section of the tundra as if it were a city grid, every hill and valley familiar, the land acquired over generations through the meticulous work of his ancestors.

He can tell his reindeer from any others by their unique earmark. And he and his family need them to live and preserve their claim to the land as well as their traditions.

That's why, Mr. Sara says, he has refused to abide by Norwegian laws, passed more than a decade ago, that limit the size of reindeer herds. The measure was taken, the government says, to prevent overgrazing.

Mr. Sara's herd was capped at 75. So every year, if the herd grows, he must pare it down. At least, those are the rules. He has refused to cull his 350 to 400 reindeer, and took the government to court.


. . .


For decades, the Norwegian government has designated reindeer herding as an exclusively Sami activity, providing herding licenses tied to ancestral lands.

The regulations limiting herd sizes were passed in 2007, forcing Sami to eliminate 30 percent of their reindeer at the time.

Mr. Sara said the limits have been devastating. If he obeyed the limit, he said, he would make only $4,700 to $6,000 a year.

"Clearly it's not possible to make a living as the job has become quite expensive, requiring snowmobiles and all the equipment that goes along with that," he said.

The law also states that any herders who are no longer profitable can lose their license. But that is not all Mr. Sara said he would lose.

"I would lose everything my ancestors worked their entire lives to create for us today," he said. "I will lose the land."



For the full story, see:

Nadia Shira Cohen. "The Hinterlands Where Reindeer Are a Way of Life." The New York Times (Monday, Dec. 17, 2018): A6.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 16, 2018, and has the title "NORWAY DISPATCH; Where Reindeer Are a Way of Life.")






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