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Biological Hazard – Mass Animal Death (Reindeer): Hardangervidda, Norway


“While specifics on the lightning strike are still unknown at this time, … We have not heard about such numbers before…”

Lightning (Allegedly) Kills More Than 300 Reindeer in Rare Mass Death

(National Geographic) A severe storm in Norway killed an entire reindeer herd in a national park in an unprecedented event, officials say.

More than 300 wild reindeer were recently killed by lightning at a Norwegian national park, officials say.

Images at link

The Norwegian Environment Agency has released haunting images of reindeer—including 70 calves—that seemingly fell over where they stood in the grasses of Hardangervidda, the largest high mountain plateau in northern Europe.

The national park, the largest in Norway with wild reindeer populations, spans some 8,000 square kilometers (3,088 square miles) and is home to 10,000 to 11,000 wild reindeer.

While specifics on the lightning strike are still unknown at this time, it’s likely that the dead reindeer were a herd that huddled together to weather a severe thunderstorm that rolled through the area on Friday.

It’s not the first time that lightning has caused animal herds to die en masse. In 1990, a thunderstorm killed 30 cattle on a farm in Orange County, Virginia, leaving their bodies scattered in a field. In 2005, a lightning strike killed 68 cows at a dairy farm outside Dorrigo in New South Wales, Australia. And in 2008, lightning outside of Montevideo, Uruguay, struck a paddock’s wire fence, killing 52 of the cattle grazing inside. (See more reindeer pictures.)

“I’ve heard of groups of cow [getting killed] when it strikes the ground,” says Steve Goodman, a scientist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Satellite Service. “The lightning can spread for hundreds and hundreds of meters, for sure.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, agency spokesperson Kjartan Knutsen said the scale of the wildlife deaths was unprecedented in the country.

“We have not heard about such numbers before,” he said.

But Goodman notes that Norway is not particularly prone to severe lightning. Satellite data from NASA’s Global Hydrology Research Center show that in an average year, southern Norway sees fewer than one lightning strike per square kilometer.

In contrast, the world’s biggest lightning hot spot, Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo, gets struck more than 232 times per square kilometer in an average year—and endures nighttime thunderstorms 297 days of the year.

[Byline Michael Greshko]

29 August 2016
National Geographic Society

See Also

Anthrax kills 2,349 reindeer in Siberia: OIE data

6 August 2016
Source: Outbreak News Today

The anthrax outbreak in the Yamal Peninsula in of northern Siberia, Russia, that began in mid-July has resulted in the death of 2,349 reindeer, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE),

The five outbreaks in different areas of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug resulted in some 2649 total cases.



30 July 2016
Source: The Siberian Times

40 now hospitalised after anthrax outbreak in Yamal, more than half are children

Russian army biological protection troops called in amid warnings ‘utmost care’ needed to stop deadly infection spreading. The concern among experts is that global warming thawed a diseased animal carcass at least 75 years old, buried in the melting permafrost, so unleashing the disease.

A total of 40 people, the majority of them children, from nomadic herder families in northern Siberia, are under observation in hospital amid fears they may have contracted the anthrax. Doctors stress that so far there are NO confirmed cases. Up to 1200 reindeer were killed either by anthrax or a heatwave in the Arctic district where the infection spread.

Specialists from the Chemical, Radioactive and Biological Protection Corps were rushed to regional capital Salekhard on a military Il-76 aircraft. They were deployed by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to carry laboratory tests on the ground, detect and eliminate the focal point of the infection, and to dispose safely of dead animals. The move confirmed the seriousness with which the authorities view the anthrax outbreak, the 1st in this region since 1941. The army unit is equipped with military helicopters as well as off road vehicles for what Yamalo-Nenets governor Dmitry Kobylkin calls ‘an extremely challenging task of liquidating the consequences — and disinfecting the focus — of the infection. I think this perhaps will be the 1st in the world operation cleaning up a territory of mass deer mortality over such distances in the tundra.’

Read more

Published Date: 2016-07-30 12:37:26
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax – Russia (04): (YN) reindeer, human exposure
Archive Number: 20160730.4381564

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