Visitors to the Centre often ask how on earth we get our free-ranging reindeer into the enclosure. The answer I give is “shake a bag of food”… whilst it sounds too simple, it can really be that easy. All of our herd are currently out on the mountains, but occasionally its easier to move them into an open part of the enclosure to feed them, out of the way of passers-by, and dogs who may like to chase them. This morning we went to spy round the roads and the tell-tale car pulled over with its hazards flashing gave away the presence of the herd who were picking at grazing through the snow just below the road. We pulled up and here’s their journey following me and a bag of food over to the enclosure…
Once the herd are spied, it just takes a call to get them thundering towards you (on a good day). Not just any call though – they can differentiate between a herder and a tourist!
When it’s snowy, the easiest route is often straight down the main road – thankfully pretty quiet at this time of day.
Off the road and we start cutting across and downhill. Glenshee is delighted to lead the way – it’s often the calves who are the greediest and most confident!
The intended route – down the steep slope to the bridge, over the river and up the other side to the enclosure. The gate in is near the shed.
Sometimes there’s a bit of hesitation at the top of the bank, but today the girls were happy to come straight down.
Down the slope and onto the bridge.
I’m always amused by the herd trotting neatly over the bridge in single file – why get wet feet when you don’t have to – great trail left down the hill too. Reindeer will walk single file through the snow to conserve energy.
Along the path up the other side – if you’ve been on our hill visit you may recognise this path! Sometimes the girls charge past up the hill, but today they were content to potter along behind.
Plodding up the path…
… and in through the enclosure gate. We often feed the free-ranging reindeer inside the hill enclosure, with the gates left open, as it gives them a bit more safety from being hassled by dogs.
Food out as their reward as the snow sets in – happy reindeer and happy herders – just 10 minutes after we set off, a successful morning complete.