From sweet puffins through elks and reindeer herds to scary brown and polar bears. Populations of these and other Scandinavian animals do not naturally inhabit Scandinavian countries. The range of species is largely determined by the region. Let’s start with Norway remaining really close to my heart. Norway geographically stretches from 58° to 71°N ( Svalbard 81°) with total area of v385,170 km2. Because of the wide spread of the country, the Norwegian fauna seems to be very diverse. You should turn a blind eye to the myth that bears and reindeer are easy to be noticed behind the city of Oslo. Truth is the farther towards north, the better chance of reporting more interesting fauna you have. Let’s start with species that are real threat to human life when exploring the North. Talk about brown bears and white bears of polar bears. The brown bear numbered 3,000 in the past, but as a result of the numerous hunts, the latest reports say only about 350 pieces.
Some of these bears also emigrated to the north of Sweden and Finland, where today they are the most numerous. As far as the region is concerned, this population is densely concentrated in Sør-Trøndelag county near the border with Sweden( particularly near Levanger). Winter seems to be a sure time for safe hiking, as bears hibernate all winter. Their lairs can be hollowed out underground holes or caves. They sleep here until spring arrives. The bear population is so small that mountain hikers were asked by the Norwegian Nature Inspectorates to collect samples of bear’s droppings needed for DNA analysis during their hiking. Moreover, they primarily live off berries and plants, but they can sometimes eat sheep. They do not attack people, if we use common sense.
So sleeping in a tent in the wild should not cause fear. But the precaution is always advised, so you’d better hang or lie camping food about 150 m away from the tent. Another dangerous animal is the polar bear, which mainly lives on the Svalbard Archipelago on the Arctic Ocean. They are even more real threat because they run faster than their brown counterparts. Tourists at Svalbard are always given weapons and advice on how to use them. Smooth visiting the island was officially blocked by the Norwegian Armed Forces. A certificate of the weapons use confirm the tourist’s ability to move in this region of the world. At Svalbard about 3500 polar bears live, hunt and give birth to their offspring. In winter their populations are very concentrated. During the summer, you can see them separated from the others.
From Olso to the north, we can come across birds that differ from ours. From Alesund to Lofoten we can also meet puffins. During the expedition to the Atlantic Road, I met a Norwegian who give me a bit of insight into places rich in these species of birds:
Surprisingly not Senja or Lofoten but a small island called Runde (70 km from Alesundu). Røst is also near the Arctic Circle, where there are about 1.3 million of these species. Puffins are also called sea parrots. Their breeding colonies, are concentrated in Norwegian coastline. Red beaks are characteristic of them and are extremely friendly towards humans. During the expedition, there should be no danger.
In Norway you can also meet “tribes of lemmings”. Rodents are found mainly in mountain areas. They look like hamsters or guinea pigs. They live in areas of the Scandinavian tundra, as they are not too demanding. These rodents eat grass, roots and shrubs. They will not bite the tent, but you will not be surprised to see a flock of marching llamas near Nordcap, as their migrations in these regions are quite common. Collective suicide of lemmings is a myth, most often in migration eaten by predators or failed attempts to cross the river.