Over 300 migrating reindeer were killed by lightning on Central Norway's Hardangervidda plateau Friday

By Alex Heigl
Updated August 29, 2016 11:04 AM
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Credit: Havard Kjotvedt /Norwegian Environment Agency, NTB scanpix, via AP

Friday was a bad time to be a reindeer navigating the barren Hardangervidda plateau in Central Norway.

323 reindeer were killed by lightning strikes, in one fell swoop. Norway’s Environment Agency is at a loss as to how the massacre could have happened. Agency spokesman Kjartan Knutsen told the Associated Press that while it’s not uncommon for reindeer or other animals to be struck by lightning, the sheer scale of this massacre is singular.

“We have not heard about such numbers before. I don’t know if there were several lightning strikes,” he said. “But it happened in one moment.” He added that reindeer tend to herd together closely in poor weather, which could explain why so many of them were killed at once.

The agency now faces the bizarre dilemma of what, if anything, to do with 300+ lightning-struck reindeer corpses. Usually, they would simply let the animals decay naturally, but the volume of dead reindeer presents a disturbing conundrum.

We’re looking to some sky-dwelling deity — possibly Odin, or Thor, or one of the other Norse gods with dominion over lighting (perhaps Loki?) — to address this tragedy.