Today’s Solutions: April 21, 2024

Sweden’s reindeer typically rely on lichens for food, which are buried beneath the snow. But in recent years, the animals have been increasingly struggling to feed themselves as a result of global warming. This is because warmer temperatures mean more rain instead of snow. When the air freezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to roam further afield in search of food, which sometimes involves crossing busy roads.

Fortunately, Sweden’s transport authorities have come up with a solution — building a dozen bridges in the north of the country so the reindeer can cross in peace. According to a Swedish public science radio, the bridges will be called “renoducts”, a combination between the Swedish word for reindeer (ren) and viaduct.

“In a changing climate with difficult snow conditions, it will be extra important to be able to find and access alternative pastures,” Swedish ecologist Per Sandström told the radio, as translated by The Guardian.

Officials are planning to build the first renoducts by the end of the year, over the E4 motorway which currently has to be shut down entirely every time a herd attempts to cross. The project will not only benefit Sweden’s 250,000 reindeer but will also serve as a relief to the 4,500 indigenous Sami owners who are authorized to herd them. “I’m looking forward to us being able to cross undisturbed,” said Sami reindeer herder Tobias Jonsson.

According to Jonsson, officials have consulted the herders for the design of the renoducts so the reindeer would be more likely to use them. The herders suggested building two-meter (seven-foot) barriers to ensure safe passage for the animals and that the bridges be open so the reindeer would not be too frightened to cross.

As we’ve seen before, wildlife overpasses can be an effective solution to the problem of helping animals travel through a world crisscrossed by highways.

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