This was already the third incident involving a hostile reindeer this autumn. A week ago, a male reindeer injured an elderly couple in Kittilä. They had to be taken to hospital. Another incident occurred recently, when a buck attacked a car in Lapland.
"During the mating season, a male reindeer is very possessive about its harem, and if a person walks between the buck and its does, it can get furious and attack him or her. While such attacks occur almost every autumn, they are not always reported", says Senior Research Scientist Mauri Nieminen of the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute.
The mating season lasts around four weeks, and one buck may have some 20 to 30 females in its territory. "The current week is the peak of the mating season", Nieminen notes.
When a male reindeer starts grunting, it is advisable to back off and hide behind a tree, Nieminen recommends.
A Rovaniemi citizen in his 60s, Teo Lehtimäki, was jogging on a sawdust track when he saw a group of female reindeer crossing the track. Suddenly a male reindeer with a large set of antlers jumped in front of him and butted the man.
Lehtimäki grabbed its broad antlers whereupon the buck lifted him in the air and butted him against a tree. He had to rip apart his sleeves in order to get rid of the antlers.
"As I got up, the buck tried to butt me again. I fled behind a tree and it chased me for a while. Fortunately, the buck noticed the fleeing does and went after them instead", Lehtimäki recalls.
Lehtimäki had to run another seven kilometres in order to have his arm stitched up at the local health centre.
In Finland, reindeer are domesticated, but are allowed to roam and graze freely in Lapland including Ounasvaara, where they are used to people. On the other hand, some herders claim that a tame buck could more easily turn on a human being than a completely wild one would.
The Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute