Lightning Strike Kills 300 Reindeer (Photos)

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A single lightning strike in Norway killed hundreds of reindeer on Aug. 26 at Hardangervidda National Park, a tourist destination.

Officials found a record-breaking 323 reindeer corpses, including 70 calves, scattered all over the Hardangervidda mountain plateau after severe thunderstorms hit the park, reports BNO News.

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"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.

Thousands of reindeer usually migrate across the park as the seasons change, and those killed were thought to be migrating.

"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."

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The Guinness World Records notes only 68 Australian cows were killed in 2005 the last time a storm resulted in such animal fatalities, the Daily Mail reports.

Images released by the Norwegian Environment Agency of the natural disaster shocked many worldwide.

Many expressed sorrow over the animals' deaths.

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"Poor animals,very sad to see these beautiful animals die because of the bloody lightning xx," wrote one Facebook user.

However, others -- like Norwegian Lucia Andalova -- did not seem as upset.

"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."

While some thought these sentiments were "callous" and "insensitive," a few agreed.

Andalove was was not the only one to note the opportunities these deaths presented.

"Not to seem unfeeling, but that's a lot of dog food and reindeer skins," writes Richard L. Miller. "Don't let it go to waste. I would just say food, but humans are picky about what they eat."

Sources: BNO News, Daily Mail/Facebook, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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