Environment

Deer, wolves and other wildlife thriving in Chernobyl exclusion zone

Deer, wolves and other wildlif...
Numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region
Numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region
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Numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region
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Numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region
Numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region
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Numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region
As radioactive particles poured out of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, a 4,200 km sq (1,621 mi sq) human exclusion zone was established around the site
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As radioactive particles poured out of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, a 4,200 km sq (1,621 mi sq) human exclusion zone was established around the site
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Humans, it seems, are worse than a nuclear disaster. A long-term study of animal populations around Chernobyl has found wildlife to be flourishing in the absence of human activity. A team of scientists surveyed the human exclusion zone surrounding the site, observing large animals like deer and elk to be in abundance despite lingering radiation.

As radioactive particles poured out of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, a 4,200 km sq (1,621 mi sq) human exclusion zone was established around the site. Earlier aerial surveys had suggested wildlife numbers in the area had recovered somewhat, but this first large-scale study of the region suggests that though radiation is harmful to their well being, the effects of human populations may be more damaging.

"This doesn’t mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming and forestry, are a lot worse," says the University of Portsmouth’s Professor Jim Smith.

Numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region
Numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region

Smith led an international team of scientists in analyzing historical data from aerial surveys and tallying animal tracks in the snow, finding that numbers of mammals like elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves are growing in line with four other nature reserves in the region.

"There have been many reports of abundant wildlife at Chernobyl but this is the first large-scale study to prove how resilient they are," says Smith. "It’s very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are much higher than they were before the accident."

The research was published in the journal Current Biology.

Source: University of Portsmouth

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6 comments
Big Mook
Since animals for the most part have very short life spans in comparison to humans, they are going to be much less likely to suffer the long-term effects, such as radiation-related cancers, that would wreak havoc in humans.
I'm sure that the absence of human influence has helped quite a bit as well, but the writer of this article seems to indicate that the radiation should be preventing the wildlife from flourishing, which is inaccurate, as has been documented for many years now. The animals are in much greater danger of death from predation or starvation since most will not live long enough to develop radiation-related diseases.
Derek Howe
This article sounds like a challenge to The Great and Powerful Putin. /s He shall don his rifle, remove thy shirt, saddle his steed, and head out into the cancer inducing radiation filled land to bag a few kills!
KenMeyer
The important factor is the transfer of genetic information over time and to me the study suggests, that it has been unhampered by radiation. I have seen recent videos from the "death zone" and to me ,for instance, pigeons shown don't exactly look or behave like mutant monsters.
Bruce H. Anderson
NO comments about glow-in-the dark antlers? I am not suprised to see boars thriving. They seem to do well no matter where they are, kind of like very large cockroaches.
YuraG
It's good the poor animals don't have to do anything with the rubber-stamp-welding red-tape-brandishing Ukrainian bureaucracy which is rightly ranked among the worst in Europe (why it failed to prevent the MH17 atrocity is anyone's guess). If those bureaucrats were put into the exclusion zone, not only the wild life would flourish everywhere in the country, the civil animals would be far better off.