Because reindeer don’t already have a magical enough public image, wildlife officials in Lapland, Finland, have begun spraying their antlers with glow-in-the-dark fluorescent dye.
“The aim is to prevent traffic accidents,” Anne Ollila, head of the Reindeer Herders' Association, told The Guardian. Last year alone, more than 4,000 reindeer in Finland were killed in car accidents. “The spray is being tried on their fur, but it is maybe more effective on their antlers because the reflection can be seen in every direction,” she added.
The reflective spray is an alternative to previously attempted solutions such as reflective tape, which the reindeer would rip off once applied.
The need is particularly pressing during winter months, when northern Finland plunges into a prolonged darkness (called the polar night) that can last up to 18 hours a day.
Still, the pilot program is tiny: The dye has been tested on the antlers of just 20 of the 200,000 reindeer that roam Lapland’s forests.
“We are hoping that it is so useful that we can use the spray in the entire region and on all reindeer, from young to old," said Ollila.
The region attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe, especially during Christmastime, as Lapland claims to be the home of Santa Claus.
So, who knows: Rudolph’s red nose may have some help in lighting the way for Santa’s sleigh in the future.