In Sweden, only a person who is member of a reindeer herding community (Sameby) has reindeer herding rights. An exception is the Concession area in western Sweden (Torne valley), where other locals can own reindeer, but Sámi people manage them.
Norway has similar rules, and only Sámi with rights to a reindeer earmark can conduct reindeer husbandry. In southern Norway, there is a Concession area with a limited number of reindeer, where both Sámi and non-Sámi are engaged in reindeer husbandry.
In Finland, anyone who is a Finnish citizen can own reindeer, but must be accepted as a member of a reindeer herding district. In the northernmost herding area (Sámi), almost all owners belong to the Sámi people. The maximum number of animals that can be owned by an individual in Finland is 300 in the southern region and 500 in the northern parts of the reindeer herding area.
More about reindeers:
- Reindeer research in the Nordic countries
- Research on reindeer husbandry – international cooperation
- Snapshots from Nordic reindeer research
Number of owners
SWEDEN has 51 reindeer herding communities (Sameby) with about 4 700 reindeer owners.
NORWAY has 556 Siida units with 2 900 people as members. Of these 2 200 are in Finnmark, the northernmost county in Norway.
FINLAND has 56 reindeer herding districts with about 6 700 reindeer owners. For most of them reindeer herding is a secondary occupation , besides farming, forestry etc. Fulltime herders number about 800, of whom 600 are Sámis.
Number of reindeer
The numbers reflect the winter herds, after slaughter but before the calves are born.
SWEDEN has a relatively stable population around 250.000 reindeer.
NORWAY has slightly more than 200.000 reindeer. In addition, a population of wild reindeer (the last population in Fennoscandia besides a newly established in southern Finland) lives in southern Norway (about 30.000 reindeer).
FINLAND has about 200.000 reindeer and a small population of wild reindeer south of the reindeer herding area.