Road salting and reindeer/vehicle-collisions

Coordinator: Gabriela Wagner, NIBIO,

Period: 2021-2022


Economic growth drives industrial activity and urban development and with these come the need for improved road networks. Especially long-haul logistics, often poorly equipped for nordic conditions, require ice-free roads. This is mainly achieved through intensive snow clearing and road salting. Climate change increases the frequency of rain-on-snow events in the high North and recurrent thaw-freeze episodes amplify the problem of icy surfaces.

Winter salting of roads attracts deer, moose and reindeer eager to lick the salt. This in combination with already slippery winter roads and the notoriously dark winter months of the North is a safety and welfare problem for humans and animals alike, making both drivers and animals vulnerable to animal-vehicle-collisions. Traditional reindeer husbandry is based on the right to use natural pastures year-round. Reindeer herders in Sweden, Norway and Finland have repeatedly expressed severe concerns about salting associated reindeer road kill near winter pastures and traditional reindeer migration routes. The herders suffer from both an increased work load trying to keep their animals away from salted roads or locating injured animals, and reduced income through loss of animals. Not least this work endangers the safety of the herders themselves, working on and along slippery roads in the dark.

Researchers, road administration authorities and reindeer herders from Sweden, Norway and Finland will come together to explore solutions to the problems of winter salting in reindeer herding areas. The network will use its international and interdisciplinary team to bridge the gap between research and practical solutions and will lay a foundation for policy advice to Nordic countries. The project findings will further benefit other snow rich countries with wildlife attracted to salted winter roads such as wild reindeer, moose, red, mule and roe deer.