Rare Mass Death: 300 Reindeer Killed by Single Lightning Strike

More than 300 wild reindeer have been killed by lightning in central Norway.  Wildlife officials are calling it an unusually large natural disaster.

It all happened in Hardangervida, a mountain plateau in southern Norway.  It’s an area that’s popular among tourists and hikers.  When the seasons change, thousands of reindeer migrate across the plateau.

The tragedy is believed to have happened Friday during a thunderstorm.  The Norwegian Environment Agency says 323 animals were killed, including 70 calves.

In this image made available by the Norwegian  Environment Agency on Monday Aug. 29  2016,  shows some of the more than 300 wild reindeer that  were killed by lighting in Hardangervidda, central Norway on Friday Aug. 26, 2016  in what wildlife officials say was a highly unusual massacre by nature. (Havard Kjotvedt /Norwegian  Environment Agency, NTB scanpix, via AP)

While it’s not uncommon for reindeer or other wildlife to be killed by lightning strikes, it is uncommon for this many to die at once.

Environment Agency spokesman Kjartan Knutsen told the AP that the reindeer tend to stay very close to each other in bad weather.  They believe the reindeer huddled together during the severe weather.

Some experts are saying they believe this to be the largest number of animals killed by lightning ever recorded.  Back in 2005, record show that 68 cows were killed by a lightning strike while on a dairy farm in Australia.

(sources:  National Geographic, AP, New York Times)

 

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