Creating a nightmare scenario for children just weeks before Christmas, freight trains in northern Norway killed 106 reindeer in a span of four days during the animals’ winter migration.
Deemed a “bloodbath” by local Norwegian media outlets, freight trains mowed down 41 reindeer between Wednesday and Friday, while another 65 were murdered on Saturday, AFP reported.
“I’m so angry that I’m dizzy,” Ole Henrik Kappfjell, a reindeer herder who owned the 65 animals killed, told NRK. “It’s a senseless animal tragedy… a psychological nightmare.”
But seeing the gruesome murders was just the half of it.
Speaking to NRK, Jon Erling Utsi, a documentary filmmaker who photographed the bloody scene along the train tracks, said some of the caribou relatives had to be shot in order to put them out of their misery.
“It was a nightmare to watch,” Utsi said. “The worst thing was the animals that were not killed in the accident, they were lying there, suffering… it was a bloodbath over several kilometers.”
According to Bane Nor, the company behind the freight trains, the warning signs for train operators to drive slowly did not activate due to a “technical failure.”
“When it was discovered that the message had disappeared, they tried to call the train,” Thor Brækkan, a regional director for the train company, told NRK. “Unfortunately, it was too late.”
Torstein Appfjell, a herder representing the family that lost 65 animals to an accident, told AP that the high number of deaths was “unprecedented.”
“This is a tragedy for me and three other herders,” Appfjell said. “Reindeer are something special for us who do this. They mean almost everything to us and the animals form the basis of our existence. Such a big recess in our reindeer herd is catastrophic.”
Though herders are calling for barriers to be built along the tracks, the plan has not materialized due to lack of funding.
Home to roughly 250,000 semi-domestic reindeer, this is the time of year that herders take them to winter pastures in search of grazing grounds, AFP reported.