A horrifying image has come out of Hardangervidda National Park in Norway. The image looks like something you’d see in a horror movie. 323 reindeer are all lying on their side – dead – in the mountain range that is usually a tourist attraction. These 323 reindeer were completely healthy when they died. Even 70 calves had their lives taken in an instant. The images are dire, stark, eerie. These 323 reindeer corpses are scattered about the mountain plateau. But now officials think they’ve determined the cause of the record-breaking reindeer deaths. It was the recent severe thunderstorms that had hit the park. A lightning bolt killed all these reindeer at once.
While the mountain plateau is part of a very popular tourist destination, the Norwegian Environment Agency had to rope it off as they calculated the lightning strike’s damage. Officials couldn’t believe that lightning had taken more than three hundred lives at once.
“Our people in the field have found 323 dead reindeer, of which five had to be put down due to injuries,” said Elin Fosshaug Olso, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Environment Agency.
As the season changes, thousands of reindeer use the national park to migrate across the country. These 323 reindeer was killed as they migrated to their seasonal home.
“We believe all reindeer were killed as a result of one single powerful lightning strike, because of the way they were positioned,” Olso added. “We have never experienced such a large number of reindeer killed by lightning at the same time before. This is as far as we know a unique incident.”
This Norwegian lightning strike is thought to have succeeded the previous world record. According to Guinness World Records, the most animal fatalities in a storm was back in 2005 when 68 Australian cows were instantly killed in one lightning strike.
The images of these Norwegian reindeers has shocked the world. And the Norwegian Environment Agency is sharing the pictures across the internet. They want the world to understand how deadly lightning strikes can be.
After thousands viewed the images, many expressed their sadness and remorse over the senseless loss of life.
“Poor animals, very sad to see these beautiful animals die because of the bloody lightning xx,” wrote a Facebook user.
Other people, like Lucia Andalova, from Norway, weren’t as upset as others.
“Hey folks! I live in Norway. Reindeers are SO overpopulated that I actually see this as God’s mercy towards nature,” wrote Andalova on the Daily Mail’s Facebook post about the incident. “There are very few natural predators here in Norway and numbers of elks and reindeers are soaring — they literally eat out food for other species.”
Many people thought Andalova’s response was “insensitive.” But a few people, especially American deer hunters, could understand where she was coming form.
Richard L. Miller contributed his thoughts about how these reindeer deaths was a great opportunity.
“Not to seem unfeeling, but that’s a lot of dog food and reindeer skins,” Miller wrote. “Don’t let it go to waste. I would just say food, but humans are picky about what they eat.”