Norway is a long place to drive through. It is very popular in summer for tourists to drive up to Northern Norway through Finland and then make their way down Norway through vast landscapes and little towns. Just like anywhere in the middle of nowhere, there is a good chance of an encounter with the natives. This can include wildlife but usually they are too smart for the roads. Though, there are times that moose do make a big dent in your car. However, it is the domestics that can do the most damage.
Sheep usually are taken up to the mountains for summer grazing, away from driving tourists. But before they go, and when they come back, there is always the real possibility of getting surrounded by a driving herd. It is not usual to hit a sheep or a cow in Norway, nor ducks, geese or llamas. These are ‘common’ animals that everyone can see anywhere, (although seeing a llama in the Arctic is a little strange, but is now possible), so tourists don’t do the ‘slow drive-by’.
It is, however, uncommon for tourists to see a reindeer. Reindeer in Europe are kept in the very Arctic north. They are usually on their summer pastures during peak tourist season but there are always a few herds that hang around. Reindeer are let to graze along sides of roads and near highways. This is exciting for tourists. They stop to take pictures, often causing a near-miss with the angry Norwegians following them. Norwegians know better than to encourage reindeer. Reindeer are very predictable. Rather than run away from a car, the reindeer will chance it and run across the road to the greener side, right if front of your speeding car. Norwegians zoom past reindeer, keeping a watchful eye and their foot close to the brake. Tourists also have a watchful eye, on the chance to get up close! This can prove to be very expensive.
One might ask ‘why do Sami allow their reindeer to graze along road and highways’? It is not because some reindeer-Samis are idiots but the exact opposite – it is because they are very smart. A reindeer is worth more when it is dead. The Sami get their regular pay at slaughter (which is subsidised by the government). However, when a reindeer is killed on the road by a tourist, the carcass fetches a premium price from the government. A roadkill reindeer is worth the loss. The roadside grazing is a tourist-trap.
Even though the government pays out the herder, there is nothing stopping the Sami from trying to get an initial payout from the guilty tourist who caused the roadkill. If a tourist is caught by the herder they are challenged to pay up. And for some reason it is always the lead reindeer that has been killed. The lead reindeer is worth much more than the other reindeer. The herder will usually demand a premium compensation from the tourist. If the tourist is smart he will barter the herder down. But if it was a Norwegian, he would push the reindeer off the road, get in his car and keep driving. Norwegians, and even tourists, are not required to payout for roadkills. But you can’t blame a Sami reindeer herder for trying, right?