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These Reindeer Really Do Shine, And It's For Their Own Good

His antlers are so bright.
Reindeer Herders' Association (of Finland)
His antlers are so bright.

Feeli the Finnish reindeer,

Had some very shiny horns ...

OK, we'll stop there.

Here's the news:

"Herders in Lapland are spraying their reindeer with reflective paint to help drivers see them in the dark," the BBC writes.

It's an experiment to see if shiny antlers might help herders reduce the number of reindeer killed each year on highways. According to Helsingen Sanomat, the largest circulation newspaper in Scandinavia, on average 4,000 reindeer die in Finland each year when they're hit by vehicles.

So, Finland's Reindeer Herders' Association is testing a reflective spray — on the animals' fur as well as their antlers.

Reindeer herding is a big business in Finland. According to data kept by the Finnish Forest Association, there are more than 7,000 reindeer herders in the country. About 5.5 million pounds of reindeer meat is produced in the country each year, the Forest Association says.

Even though the Herders' Association has built a 1,200-mile-long fence on the borders of the animals' grazing lands, it's not possible to keep all of the 200,000 or so reindeer that the herders' care for from crossing highways.

Perhaps the paint will help drivers avoid some collisions.

By the way, we're aware that horns and antlers "are often used interchangeably" but aren't really the same thing. But you try fitting "antlers" into the opening lines of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Seriously, try it in the comments thread!

Correction at 9:55 a.m. ET, Feb. 21. It's "Reflective," Not "Fluorescent":

We were, rightfully as it turns out, taken to task in the comments thread for saying earlier that the spray being used on the antlers is fluorescent and glows in the dark. We had used those words because that's what Anne Ollila of Finland's Reindeer Herders' Association told the AP.

Well, after seeing the comments about our likely mistake, we took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and called Ollila.

Though she speaks English well, Ollila conceded to us that it's not her first language. She shouldn't have said fluorescent, she says. The spray is reflective and the antlers will only "glow" if a light is shined on them.

We've gone back through the post to clear things up.

Our thanks to those who shed some light on our mistake.

(H/T to USA Today.)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Corrected: February 20, 2014 at 10:00 PM MST
The spray being put on the antlers of some reindeer is reflective, not fluorescent. Scroll down to read about our mistake on that point.
Mark Memmott
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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