Mother nature is beautiful, but sometimes her wrath can be absolutely deadly.
A lightning strike is reportedly to blame for the death of 323 wild reindeer in the Hardangervidda, a mountain plateau found in Southern Norway. The event is the largest wild catastrophe the region has ever seen, according to the Norwegian Environmental Agency.
Image Credit: Norwegian Environmental Agency
Among the 323 deceased reindeer, 70 were reportedly calves and at least 5 of them needed to be put down because they survived the incident with major injuries.
“We are not familiar with any previous happening on such a scale,” said Kjartan Knutsen, an official for the Norwegian Environmental Agency. “Individual animals do from time to time get killed by lightning, and there are incidents where sheep have been killed in groups of 10 or even 20, but we have never seen anything like this.”
As reindeer typically travel very closely to one another in packs, they likely passed the electricity on from one to another as they were standing or walking.
“Reindeer often huddle together in groups during thunderstorms,” Knutsen added. “It is a strategy they have to survive, but in this case their survival strategy might have cost them their life. The corpses are all lying in one big group, piled together.”
The lightning was reportedly a part of a very wet storm, so the water paired with the close huddling basically chained them all together when the lightning struck.
The images that are appearing all over the internet from the deadly lightning scene in Norway are graphic and viewer discretion is advised.
Although the news is a downer for sure, the death of all of these reindeer provides the opportunity for scientists to take samples from their corpses for study. It’s hoped that the samples will help scientists better understand the containment of a wasting disease that has been plaguing local reindeer since March.
Source: New York Times, The Verge