A group of government environmentalists were shocked to come upon a large herd of wild reindeer lying dead on the Hardangervidda plateau. They were on a routine survey of the area. Five of the 323 were still alive when found, but were so severely injured they had to be euthanized.
A freak lightning storm has killed 323 reindeer [including 70 calves] in a remote mountainous area of Norway, officials said on Monday.
Dead animals were found lying on top of each other, many with their antlers entangled, after the thunderstorm on the Hardanger plateau in southern Norway on Friday.
"We've never had anything like this with lightning," Kjartan Knutsen of Norway's nature surveillance agency said, adding there were sometimes isolated cases of sheep or reindeer struck down.
Reindeer tend to group together when in danger. It was unclear whether the herd had been killed by a single lightning bolt or several.
Dead reindeer litter a hillside in central Norway on Aug. 27. HAAVARD KJONTVEDT / Norwegian Environment Agency via AFP - Getty Images
The air and ground were extremely wet on Friday, which would help conduct lightning. That could explain how so many were killed at one location, according to Olav Strand, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. The corpses may be left to decay naturally, since no people live near the site. Normally, Hardanger has about 12,000 reindeer.
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