A petrol station in Finnish Lapland’s Vuotso village has a whole herd of fans, but unfortunately, they are of the hoofed variety.
Owner Raija Muukka says she has been put in an awkward position by the reindeers’ fondness for the service station. While the sight attracts more customers and tourists, the animals also make it difficult for cars and customers to navigate the area -- and they have a penchant for leaving prominent reminders of their visits.
"I have to start every morning by cleaning the area so the droppings don’t make their way into the shop. Whoever has the time tries to come out and shoo them away several times a day," she says.
Odour and horseflies
Jouko Kumpula, a senior researcher at the Natural Resources Institute (Luke), says that reindeer that gather near humans in the summer are usually males. They are accustomed to people and they come close to roads and buildings to try and escape swarms of annoying forest insects.
"There are fewer horseflies, black flies and mosquitoes, and so they avoid them by coming into built-up areas," he says.
Kumpula urges people to be patient with the animals, as they are part of Lapland’s natural environment. Herds that are part of Finland’s reindeer husbandry industry are marked and then allowed to wander Lapland’s wilderness for most of the year, but it is possible to file a complaint with local authorities if the animals destroy property or create a nuisance.
Neighbour Alpo Viikki moved to Vuotso from Central Finland. He put up a fence around his property to keep out the reindeer, saying that he built it largely because of the animals' smell, and also to keep away the horseflies that they inevitably bring with them.
He has no plan to raise a fuss.
"The wide expanses of Lapland should have enough room for both of us, humans and reindeer," he says.