This Border Fence Is for Unusual Trespassers

Reindeer keep walking from Norway into Russia, and Russia wants payment for eaten grass
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 25, 2023 2:20 PM CDT
This Border Fence Is for Unusual Trespassers
Workers build a new fence along the border with Russia, near Storskog, Norway.   (HT Gjerde Finnmark via AP)

Norway is rebuilding a dilapidated reindeer fence along its border with Russia in the Arctic to stop the animals from wandering into the neighboring country—costly strolls for which Oslo has to compensate Moscow over loss of grassland. Norwegian officials say that so far this year, 42 reindeer have crossed into Russia seeking better pastures and grazing land, per the AP. The reindeer barrier along the Norway-Russia border spans 93 miles and dates back to 1954. The Norwegian Agriculture Agency said a stretch of about 4 miles between the Norwegian towns of Hamborgvatnet and Storskog would be replaced.

The construction, with a price tag of 3.7 million kroner ($348,000), is to be completed by Oct. 1, the agency said. The work is a challenge, however, as the workers have to stay on the Norwegian side of the border "at all times" during construction, "which makes the work extra demanding," said Magnar Evertsen of the agency. If a worker crossed into Russian territory, without a Russian visa, that would amount to illegal entry. The reindeer crossings bring on a lot of additional bureaucracy: Russia has sent two compensation claims, the agency said.

The agency said that of the 42 animals that entered Russia this year, 40 have been brought back to Norway and the remaining two are expected to come back soon. The reindeer are herded by the Indigenous Sami people in central and Arctic Norway. Formerly known as the Lapps, the Sami are believed to have originated in Central Asia and settled with their reindeer herds in Arctic Europe around 9,000 years ago. They traditionally live in Lapland, which stretches from northern parts of Norway through Sweden and Finland to Russia. Across the Arctic region, the majority live on the Norwegian side of the border.

(More reindeer stories.)

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