Fact Check-Finland did paint some reindeers’ antlers with reflective paint, but social media posts feature digital artwork

A digital artwork showing a reindeer with orange-glowing antlers has tricked users on social media into thinking it is a real photograph .

Most posts accompanying the image refer to real efforts in a region of Finland in 2014 to reduce reindeer road deaths by painting their antlers with reflective paint. The image accompanying the true story, however, is not a real photograph.

Recent posts have gained more than 60,000 shares on Facebook ( here , here , here )

The artwork was posted by Instagram user @vasjenkatro, who identifies as a “visual designer”, on Feb. 6, 2020 and was indeed inspired by the Finnish initiative. The post’s description reads: “This is 3D. It is not real. It is based on real story I saw from @berinhasi that in Finland they paint raindeers antlers to shine at night so they don’t get hit by cars. That got me to this artwork. #fujifilm #film #c4d” ( here ).

As reported by the BBC ( here ), the Finnish Reindeer Herders Association started testing this method in 2014 in Finnish Lapland to prevent traffic accidents. Their story features an authentic photograph of the initiative with a reindeer whose antlers are coated with reflective paint.

By 2016, the association had reported that this and other efforts that included hanging “reflectors around their [reindeer’s] necks and even used movable traffic signs” had failed to reduce reindeer road deaths, according to Associated Press (AP) reports at the time ( here ). Later that year, a mobile app registering and tracking reindeer and warning app users approaching the animals was shown to have some effect in reducing the number of accidents ( here ).

Reuters asked the Finnish Reindeer Herders Association for further updates about these initiatives. This article will be updated accordingly.

Some posts on social media include authentic photographs alongside the artwork ( here, here). The images have been credited to Anne Ollila, director of the Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association ( here, here, here, here).


Miscaptioned. In an attempt to reduce traffic accidents and reindeer deaths in a region in Finland, the Finnish Reindeer Herders Association did try to paint reindeer antlers with reflective paint, but the image accompanying some social media posts is an artist’s rendering.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts  here  .