Lightning is to blame for the deaths of 323 reindeer, 318 of which died instantly and five that had to be put down. The animals are believed to have been struck on Friday afternoon in Norway’s Hardangervidda National Park, with the whole herd being affected by a single bolt.

The strike took place on the park’s Hardangervidda mountain plateau. According to BNO News, a hunting supervisor came across the bodies Friday evening, but it wasn’t until Sunday that officials could get to the area and assess the situation.

Measurements were taken that show all the dead animals were within a 165-foot circle at the time of the lightning strike. While the record is unofficial, many believe this to be the highest death toll for a single lightning bolt event.

While many consider Europe’s reindeer and North America’s caribou to be the same species, some researchers are speculating that the two are actually cousins. Based on genetic mapping, some believe the two are similar but not exactly alike, with their ability to interbreed not as strong as members of the same species. Other biologists still believe the two are one in the same, but either way, the differences to the casual observer are negligible.

 

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