Two Icelanders are hoping to start a farm of 200 reindeer, with the hopes of increasing that population tenfold over the next 10 to 15 years.
RÚV reports that Stefán Hrafn Magnússon, a reindeer farmer based in Greenland, and Björn Magnússon, a former farmer with a keen interest in reindeer, have filed an application with the Icelandic Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources for a permit to start the farm.
While the exact location of the sanctuary has not yet been decided, numerous places in east Iceland – where reindeer are most numerous – are on the table, with several landowners in the area already expressing an interest in taking part.
“They’ll be in a fenced-in area until the summer,” Björn told reporters. “In the winter, they’ll be provided feed.”
The reindeer will be raised with the express purpose of being able to provide more reindeer meat for the country’s stores. Officials from the ministry intend to look at the pros and cons of starting a reindeer farm, including logistic feasibility, the danger of the spread of disease, and effects on roaming herds.
Reindeer are not a native species in Iceland, but were introduced to the country in the 1700s. While their populations have risen and fallen since then, there are an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 reindeer in east Iceland. A limited number of permits to hunt them are granted every year, making most available reindeer meat in Iceland either imported, or obtained personally from someone who hunts reindeer.