Science & Technology

Grazing with Icelandic Reindeer – A Herd of Wild Reindeer Prospering in Eastern Iceland

Efforts to raise domesticated reindeer on the island have failed, but wild reindeer herds are thriving in eastern Iceland.

While most of the world’s population of reindeer and caribou have Significantly reduced In recent decades, Icelandic herds have been on track.Its population Growing rapidly In recent decades, it is now stable.

Reindeer was first carried by a royal decree from Norway to Iceland in the 1700s after the illness killed about 60% of the island’s sheep population. Initially, there was hope that they could be domesticated and bred on farms.However Early efforts in reindeer breeding He was enthusiastic because of the harsh winter, the competition with the shepherds, and his lack of interest in raising animals among Icelanders.

Mount Sneffel Annotated

September 9, 2021

Nevertheless, wild reindeer thrived in eastern Iceland. Lichen (Cetraria islandica). For the flock to consume. The population has risen from dozens of reindeer in the 1700s to more than 5,000 today. Many Icelandic reindeer spend a lot of time in the summer foraging in the nearby highlands. Mount Snaefell.. When winter weather arrives, they descend into warm valleys near the sea.

Iceland 2020 annotated

August 14, 2020

Landsat 8’s Operational Land Imager (OLI) captured this image of Mount Snaefell and its surroundings on September 9, 2021. The Halslon Reservoir is in the west, Vatnajökull ice field To the south. As you can see in the second image, the plateau plateau north and northeast of the Vatnajokull glacier is Iceland’s only place where vegetation continues from the coast to Vatnajokull. The image was taken by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). NASAAqua satellite.

Limited rangelands can be a problem in Iceland due to the long and cold winters.Vegetation satellite observations — especially Normalized vegetation index (NDVI)-One of the tools researchers and wildlife managers use to monitor the health of pastures and reindeer populations in Eastern Iceland.

Reindeer Iceland


Reindeer in eastern Iceland do not have to fight natural predators. Parasitic flies, Or mosquitoes. To control reindeer populations, human hunters are allowed to kill about 1000 to 1,300 animals each year.

“To prevent overgrazing, we keep the density of winter populations below one per square kilometer,” explained SkarphéðinnÞórisson of the East Iceland Nature Center. “Most of the overgrazing that occurs in Iceland is related to sheep breeding, not reindeer, and occurs primarily in areas other than eastern Iceland.”

Image of NASA Earth Observatory by Lauren Dauphin using Landsat data from the US Geological Survey and MODIS data from NASA EOS DISLANCE and GIBS / Worldview. Photo by Darcy Moore.

Grazing with Icelandic Reindeer – A Herd of Wild Reindeer Prospering in Eastern Iceland Grazing with Icelandic Reindeer – A Herd of Wild Reindeer Prospering in Eastern Iceland

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