Most People In Iceland Who Hit Sheep With Vehicles Just Drive Away - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Most People In Iceland Who Hit Sheep With Vehicles Just Drive Away

Published May 27, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photo by
Kyle MacLea/Wikimedia Commons

It’s that time of year again: the Icelandic lambs for the season have been born around the country, and now the sheep are heading out to graze for the summer. This, with an increase in car traffic brought on by tourism, has led to some disturbing trends in hit-and-run cases involving sheep, Vísir reports.

The situation is particularly bad in South Iceland, especially in the southeast district of Austur-Skaftafellssýsla. An abundance of both sheep this time of year and speeding drivers—a widespread problem in the south—has led to the deaths of about 140 sheep in that district alone last year.

Grétar Már Þorkelsson, a police officer from Höfn in southeast Iceland, points out that there are other logistical issues at play. For example, the district is some 220 kilometres long, but only about 30 kilometres are fenced off, meaning that sheep will roam freely across and even on roads in the area.

When a car hits a sheep, there is usually considerable damage done to the vehicle, and sheep and lamb usually die upon impact. However, by his estimations, only about 15% of these deaths are ever reported to the police; in every other instance, the driver simply leaves the scene.

If you do hit a sheep or lamb with your car, your best course of action is to call the police at once. Chances are they can identify what farm the animal came from. Most farmers have insurance against this kind of loss of livestock, and you will only be fined if it is later determined that the accident was caused by your negligence.

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