Lightning strikes dead more than 300 wild reindeer in Norway

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

File photo of a reindeer.
Image: Alexandre Buisse.

A lightning strike in Southern Norway’s Hardangervidda region has killed more than 300 wild reindeer, according to reports from local authorities. The bodies were discovered on Friday by a hunting warden at the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate located between Møsvatn and Kalhovd in Telemark County. Knut Nylend of the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate operations center told Sputnik News, "The deer were found dead in an area 50-80 meters in diameter". Due to an intense thunderstorm on Friday afternoon, Nylend suspects the herd were killed by a lightning strike.

The rare incident has left 323 deer dead, including 70 young calves and 5 others needing to be euthanized due to injury. A representative from Norway’s Environment Agency, Kjartan Knutsen, also spoke to the AFP. "There were very strong storms in the area on Friday. The animals stay close together in bad weather and these ones were hit by lightning."

Although the close proximity of the bodies indicate they were killed by a lightning strike, further tests are underway. Samples of the dead animals' blood and tissue will be examined for chronic wasting disease (CWD), which was detected in both Norwegian reindeer and elk earlier this year. It is still unclear what will happen to the carcasses and if they will be collected and disposed of.