OSLO, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- More than 300 reindeer have been killed by lightning in southeast Norway and the country's environmental agency has not decided what to do with the carcasses, local media reported on Monday.
A hunting warden from the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO) found the carcasses of 323 reindeer on Friday on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, in a private hunting area of 50 to 80 meters in diameter between Mosvatn and Kalhovd in the county of Telemark in southeast Norway, the newspaper VG said.
The Norwegian Environment Agency and the Food Safety Authority sent eight people to the site on Sunday where they took samples of the dead animals, it said.
Kjartan Knudsen, technical director of the Norwegian Environment Agency told VG that this was probably the biggest number of reindeer ever killed by lightning in Norway.
"What will happen with them further is still not clear. Usually it is the nature that arranges it by itself, but in this case we have to do an extra estimate due to the big number of animals," Knudsen said, adding that it was probably the animals' behavior that led to such a big tragedy.
Raindeer clump and flock together when bad weather occurs. "It is their way to protect themselves. Therefore it is obvious that all of them were killed at the same moment," he said.
Atle Mysterud, a professor at University of Oslo and a deer specialist, agreed with Knudsen, saying that this must be a record number of animals killed by lightning at the same time.
"It is quite usual that 10 to 20 livestock gets killed by lightning, but this must be completely unique. There was an avalanche that killed 280 reindeer at Snohaetta a few years ago, but I believe that this now must be a record for lightning strike," Mysterud told public broadcaster NRK.
Laila Fodnes Sidselrud at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute said that it is possible that the lightning killed the deer, according to NRK.
"The lightning I have found in my research was registered in that area. It is within 400 meters of the area where the deer were found, so the strike was probably in the middle of the herd. The lightning was registered on Friday at 13:27 o'clock. Maximal power in this lightning strike was around 63 kA, that is 63,000 amperes," Sidselrud said.
According to the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Center, the number of wild reindeer in winter totals roughly 25,000 animals, with the largest population of 6,000 to 7,000 animals being found on Hardangervidda.