A Finnish reindeer browses reflectively.

A Finnish reindeer browses reflectively. (Photo: Reindeer Herder’s Association)

If you’re on the lookout for magical reindeer this year, don’t bother gazing skyward—turn your attention to Finland, where local herders are using iridescent antler paint to cut down on deer-car collisions.

In Finland’s Lapland region, vehicles share space with huge groups of freely roaming reindeer, herded by the Sami people. During the long, dark winter, this coexistence can be dangerous.

“Every year, about 4,000 reindeer are lost on Finnish roads in car accidents,” explained Juho Tahkola of the Reindeer Herder’s Association in an email. “We need to find a way to get these numbers down.” 

A member of the Reindeer Herder's Association sprays down a test subject. (Photo: Reindeer Herder's Association)

A member of the Reindeer Herder’s Association sprays down a test subject. (Photo: Reindeer Herder’s Association)

Like a bike vest, the reflective paint only glows when light hits it. The Association has experimented with this strategy for several years, applying various types of paint to various reindeer parts. This year, after spray paint and fur-coating both proved lackluster, they’ve swabbed a test group of antlers with a thick brushing paint. ”We have about 400 reindeer antlers painted and we will get results in a couple of months” says Tahkola. In the meantime, on Dasher, on Dancer, etcetera.

Turns out Rudolph's nose was a genetic thing.

Turns out Rudolph’s nose was a genetic thing. (Photo: Anne Ollila/Yle)

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.