Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Reindeer herders in the north of Sweden are considering releasing their flocks over the border to graze in Norway. At issue is a conflict over grazing regulations in the border area. Grazing land is precious in the far north, and now a conflict looms over the rights to it. The pending move by the native Swedish sami people is expected to spur protests from their counterparts on the Norwegian side of the border. "We won't get into fist fights, that's a bit too primitive," says Per Gunnar Harnesk of Sirges, the largest sami town along the Swedish border with Norway. "But we're prepared for a number of conflicts and police reports," Harnesk told newspaper Dagens Nyheter. According to the Swedish newspaper, Swedish and Norwegian authorities haven't managed to agree on how grazing areas along the border should be regulated. A 1972 amendment to regulations first laid down in 1751 expired on May 1, meaning that the 244-year-old law now applies. It holds that those reindeer herders who find it natural to let their animals graze on the other side of the border have a right to do so. The Norwegian grazing lands are viewed as better than the Swedish ones. The same old rules also allow for the Swedes to hunt and fish in Norway.