Researchers Find Thriving Wildlife Populations in Chernobyl

Posted on October 7, 2015

A team of international researchers studying the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have found that it is thriving with wildlife. The researchers say it looks more like a nature preserve than a disaster zone nearly 30 years after the nuclear accident. A moose family living in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is pictured above.

Some of the other animals observed in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone include roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves. Previous studies of the 1,621-square-mile have showed evidence of major radiation effects and significantly reduced populations of wildlife.

James Beasley, assistant professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and co-author of the study, says in a statement, "Our data are a testament to the resiliency of wildlife when freed from direct human pressures such as habitat loss, fragmentation and persecution. The multi-year data clearly show that a multitude of wildlife species are abundant throughout the zone, regardless of the level of radiation contamination."

The results of the study indicate that the number of animals like moose, deer and wild boar in the Chernobyl zone are similar to numbers in nearby uncontaminated areas. The census data on wolves in the area indicate they are seven times greater in number than those living in the nearby reserves.

Jim Smith, a professor of environmental science at the University of Portsmouth and coordinator of the research team, says, "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."

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal Current Biology. The photograph below shows wild boar running through an abandoned village in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

More from Science Space & Robots