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Animal traffic signs

Warning signs

The elk warning signs are very popular: Foreign tourists steal them and local hunters (?) use them as shooting targets. You had better take these signs seriously, though. Up to 800 kilograms of long-legged animal through the windscreen is kind of overwhelming. Notice also that they usually (but not always!) flee from people (or "hide" behind a tree), but like other animals they're not afraid of cars. This is the Eurasian Elk – Alces alces (or machlis). The Americans call it moose because it looks like its American slightly larger and more aggressive relative – Alces americanus (or the Alaskan Alces gigas), and because in America elk is a large deer also called wapiti (Cervus canadiensis). elk
The Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) is also quite big, the stag may reach about 250 kilograms. They are not so well adapted to cold winters as elks, so they live mainly in coastal areas of Southern Norway (and most of Central Europe). [The elegant Roe Deer, weighting less than 35 kilograms, live in Southern Norway (and Central and Southern Europe). If one of them leaps across the road, its mate is usually close behind.] red deer
Wild reindeer are too shy to approach a road, therefore this sign concerns the domesticated ones. They are found in the northern parts of Norway from Trøndelag and up. Driving through the highlands of Southern Norway you may also come across one of those commercial "Lapp camps" displaying a reindeer with beautiful antlers. In Norway wild reindeer live only on Hardangervidda and Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella, both are highlands of the southern part. The species living here is Rangifer tarandus, subspecies tarandus. There are totally seven (non-extinct) subspecies of reindeer, three in Eurasia (including the small one on Spitsbergen) and four (Caribou) in North America. reindeer
This sign is usually seen where a farmer occasionally drives his cattle across the road. On some minor roads cattle may also move freely on the road, and they are damned stubborn. A car, however big or fast, doesn't impress them. Neither does the horn (the automobile's). On a narrow road you may have to leave the car and start negotiations. Don't worry though, this is a very rare situation, and cows are never aggressive towards us, and they – in their sluggish way – obey people. However, be careful if you bring a dog as the whole herd might attack the animal. cow
The sheep-and-lamb sign is really cute. When lambs are frightened by an approaching car, they run to their mother – which is often across the road. In some districts sheep are often seen grazing close to the road or lying on the roadside ruminating. sheep
Riding is a popular sport particularly among teenage girls. There are numerous riding schools where you can borrow a horse and take riding lessons. Effectively – though not formally – this sign advertises a riding school. horse
This sign isn't quite official and it isn't quite serious. This sample stands at the foot of Trollstigen, a road virtually climbing a mountain. The sign depicts a troll, one of those Nordic mythical creatures, you know. Trolls are supposed to be frightening and Trollstigen has scared many of its visitors. Thus it is an appropriate warning sign. troll
This sign is deadly serious, but it isn't a road sign – simply because there aren't many roads on Spitzbergen. It warns you of polar bears (ice bears) – never leave the protection of nearby houses (they never lock the doors) without carrying a gun. This sign has changed; it used to be a black polar bear on a white background.

polar bear

polar bear

Humans are also supposed to be animals
– and I feel compelled to complete the series ...

The old versions of these signs (left) are now being replaced by new ones. The latter are conventionalized and gender-neutral, which means no hats and no pigtails.

traffic sign traffic sign

traffic sign traffic sign

traffic sign traffic sign

traffic sign traffic sign

traffic sign traffic sign



Extra below: Children's crossing signs in our neighbor countries Sweden (left) and Iceland. They are not gender-neutral and the female is the dominant one.

traffic sign traffic sign

If you are interested in road signs of the world you should visit the site of  Bartolomeo Mecánico   It's limited to Men at Work, Children's Crossing, and Falling Rocks though.

Wikipedia has a comparison of most European road signs

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updated 2013-07-05