Rutting season – be careful!

The rutting season starts in the end of September and it lasts until October-November. During the rutting season, males collect their own harems. They are very jealous about their females and will defend them against other males aggressively. Clashing antlers is their way to strengthen and defend their position, but it is also to awaken the female hormones. The biggest, strongest and most energetic males will win this competition.

 In the round-up the lasso is used to move the male reindeer outside the fencing. Image: Hanna Mikkola.

Reindeer usually step aside if there are people, but during the rutting season it is good to make sure not to approach male reindeer nor to stand between males and females. If you see reindeer, the best is to go around them from a safe distance. You can also make a noise, do not surprise them and they will move away.  If you walk towards a male reindeer and its harem, you might be considered a threat and be attacked. Hence, photographing or just watching them should be done from a safe distance.

If a male reindeer attacks you, the best is to run away as fast as possible. If this does not help, try to find bigger trees or other protective shapes of nature to prevent them from pushing you with their antlers. It is good to inform the local reindeer herding cooperative or Reindeer Herders’ Association of the attacking male reindeer.

Overall, it is safe to walk in the northern nature during the rutting season. Just pay attention to the behaviour of the animals.