Norway plans mass reindeer cull to prevent spread of wasting disease

Samuel Osborne
Around 2,000 reindeer are estimated to live in Nordfjella, where the diseased reindeer were found (file image): GettY

Norway is preparing to cull thousands of reindeer to stop the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Experts said an entire herd of wild reindeer must be exterminated in order to work towards eradicating the disease, The Local reported.

The disease, which leads to chronic weight loss before the death of the animal, was first discovered in Europe last year.

In April, a young caribou was found to be affected, followed by three reindeer and an elk.

Around 2,000 reindeer are estimated to live in Nordfjella, the area the diseased reindeer were found.

Norway's Food Safety Authority has tested thousands of animals across the country to understand how far the disease has spread.

Last week, the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety recommended "comprehensive measures" be taken to eradicate the disease.

In a report, it called for the local population of reindeer to be culled.

“If the authorities want to eradicate the disease then we have a golden opportunity now, since it appears that it is limited to the northern parts of Nordfjella,” a committee member told NRK.

"If the goal is to eradicate then the best solution is to shoot the entire herd."

Over the weekend, Norway began its annual six-month whale hunt season with a quota of 999 minke whales — up from 880 in 2016.

Despite the new kill quota, officials say that quota of whales has not been fully taken in recent years because demand is scant for whale meat and the industry has seen its numbers decrease because of retiring whalers.

The International Whaling Commission imposed a commercial ban on whaling in 1986, but Norway objected.

Greenpeace called Norwegian whaling "a dying industry" and maintained it is wrong of Norway to violate international agreements.