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death by train

Reindeer are being killed in 'unprecedented' numbers by trains in Norway

In the last week, more than 100 reindeer in Norway have been killed by freight trains, USA Today reported Monday. Death by train is not an uncommon fate for reindeer in that part of the world; more than 2,000 reindeer lost their lives on railroad tracks in Norway between 2013 and 2016, The Guardian says. But one herder said this latest string of deaths is "unprecedented": On Saturday alone, 65 reindeer were mowed down in a tragic incident of vehicular slaughter.

Northern Norway is home to more than 250,000 reindeer, and it is during this time of year that herders guide their animals towards grazeable land for the winter. This migration can be risky: Some reindeer drown when ice collapses, and others find themselves in the unlucky path of an oncoming freighter. Herders say incidents like Saturday's are preventable, though, and some are calling for more fences to be erected along railroad tracks. Another solution could be "geo-fences," which track the animals and alert train drivers when they're approaching a herd.

Bane Nor, the company operating the train in Saturday's incident, says the bloodbath was the result of "a technical failure," and that its drivers were not warned to slow down in migration areas. Technical failure or not, the owner of the 65 dead deer called the incident "a psychological nightmare." Just how bad was it? A documentary filmmaker who photographed the aftermath claimed that many of the injured reindeer were left suffering in the train's path, and later had to be put out of their misery.