Over 400 sheep have been gathered from up in the mountains in East Iceland this winter after being left behind during sheep gathering, RÚV reports. Some were in poor shape, having had little to eat.
Many sheep were not found during the sheep gathering in the fall due to lack of herders or poor weather conditions. Sigurður Baldursson, a ranger in Reyðarfjörður, says there are many reasons why sheep can be missed during the fall gathering, such as fog, difficult weather, or lack of manpower. Rangers like Sigurður have a legal responsibility to find any sheep that are known to be in the mountains once winter arrives, yet Sigurður states there is not enough follow-up.
Þorsteinn Bergsson of the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority worries about the situation. “The number of people in the countryside has simply decreased and that usually means that farmers can’t herd sheep from as large an area at once. They don’t have the manpower for that. So people are separating the areas up and herding from one part at a time and then sheep can move between them. I think that’s one of the big reasons why gathering has become so poor,” states Þorsteinn.