Wild animals return to Chernobyl, despite radiation: researchers

By Park Sae-jin Posted : October 16, 2015, 16:20 Updated : October 16, 2015, 16:20
Nearly 30 years after the world's largest nuclear accident, the Chernobyl site now looks less like a disaster zone and more like a nature preserve, teeming with elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar, and wolves, researchers said Monday.

The findings, published in the U.S. journal Current Biology, are a reminder of the resilience of wildlife and may also hold important lessons for understanding the potential long-term impact of the more recent Fukushima disaster in Japan.

"It's very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are much higher than they were before the accident," study author Jim Smith of the University of Portsmouth in Britain said in a statement. "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."

In 1986, after a fire and explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant released radioactive particles into the air, thousands of people left the area, never to return.

Earlier studies in the 4,200-square-kilometer Chernobyl Exclusion Zone showed major radiation effects and pronounced reductions in wildlife populations.

By Ruchi Singh
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