How exactly did 323 Norwegian reindeer electrocuted by lightning in freak accident

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How exactly did 323 Norwegian reindeer electrocuted by lightning in freak accident

More than 300 wild reindeer have been killed by lighting in central Norway in what wildlife officials are calling an unusually large natural disaster.

The Norwegian Environment Agency has released eerie images showing a jumble of reindeer carcasses scattered across a small area on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. The agency says 323 animals were killed, including 70 calves, in the lightning storm Friday.

Agency spokesman Kjartan Knutsen told the AP it's not uncommon for reindeer or other wildlife to be killed by lightning strikes, "but we have not heard about such numbers before."
He said reindeer tend to stay very close to each other in bad weather, which could explain how so many were killed at once.

How exactly did 323 Norwegian reindeer electrocuted by lightning in freak accident

Thousands of reindeer migrate across the barren Hardanangervidda plateau as the seasons change.
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Thousands of reindeer migrate across the barren Hardanangervidda plateau as the seasons change 

More than 300 reindeer have been killed by a single lightning strike at a Norwegian national park.

Pictures released by the Norwegian Environment Agency on Sunday show 323 carcasses scattered across a small, isolated area in Hardangervidda National Park. The plateau-like park in south-central Norway is home to Europe's largest herds of wild reindeer, according to its website.
One of the agency's inspectors discovered the dead animals over the weekend after a storm passed through.
Wild animals are occasionally struck by lightning, but the agency has never seen so many killed at once, spokesperson Kjartan Knutsen told CNN.
"We have never experienced such numbers before. This is very large," Knutsen said. He said the wild reindeer were huddled together because of heavy weather on Friday, when the strike occurred.
"That's why it's possible for the lightning to kill so many," he said.
The Norwegian park is home to Europe's largest herds of wild reindeer.
The Norwegian park is home to Europe's largest herds of wild reindeer.
Humans rarely visit the remote area. The dead reindeer were found by one of the agency's inspectors because Norway is in the midst of its annual wild reindeer hunting season.
Knutsen said five reindeer were still alive when the inspector came across the scene, but they had to be euthanized.
He said the agency has now begun taking samples from the dead animals as part of a health survey.
"We know they were killed by lightning, but this testing is for science," he said.
The dead reindeer were still on site Monday. While the agency usually does not remove animals when they die in the wild, it is currently considering other options because of the large numbers, Knutsen said.
It's not the first time a large herd of animals have been killed by lightning. In 2005, 68 cows were killed in Australia by a single bolt.
How exactly did 323 Norwegian reindeer electrocuted by lightning in freak accident
How exactly did 323 Norwegian reindeer electrocuted by lightning in freak accident

Lightning strike kills 323 reindeer in Norway
Officials say the animals could have died because they huddled together 'out of fear'
A lightning strike in Norway has killed more than 300 reindeer, according to reports from local media. A spokesman for the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (NNI) told NTB, the Norwegian News Agency, that 323 reindeer were found dead on Friday in an area near Hardangervidda, in the southern part of the country. In a press release published Sunday, the Norwegian Environment Agency said that 70 of the dead reindeer were calves. Officials believe that the animals were killed by lightning during a heavy thunderstorm, marking what could be the deadliest lightning strike in history.

"We’ve heard about animals being struck by lightning and killed, but I don’t remember hearing about lightning killing animals on this scale before," NNI spokesman Knut Nylend tells NTB. "We don’t know if it was one or more lighting strike; that would only be speculation."

 reindeer
(Norwegian Environment Agency)
Nylend discovered the animals in a remote part of a private hunting area, and NIN employees have been dispatched to the region to take samples from the reindeer. Hardangervidda national park is home to an estimated 10,000 wild reindeer that migrate across the region every year. Nylend speculates that the reindeer may have been killed because they are often close to one another, and "they may have gathered even closer together out of fear" during the thunderstorm.

As BNO News notes, the deadliest lightning strike involving livestock occurred in 2005, when 68 cows were killed in Australia, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The deadliest incident involving humans occurred in 1971, according to Guinness, when a lightning strike caused a Peruvian airline to crash into the Amazon, killing 91 people. The Guinness Book of World Records does not appear to track wildlife deaths due to lightning strikes.
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