Wildlife in Chernobyl

Megan Lynn Mullins, Feature writer

In the early hours of the morning of April 26 1986 a nuclear disaster occurred in Chernobyl. An experiment was being held to test the safety of of a nuclear reactor. Suddenly things went severely wrong and radiation spilled into the surrounding environments. Hundred of thousands of citizens in a 30 km area were evacuated in order to prevent harm and even death. But very little could be done at the time for the surrounding environment due to the high level of radiation. Soon after the disaster a majority of the coniferous trees died and their needles fell to the ground turning red giving the area the name “the red forest”. The small animal population plummeted within a year and the the expectations for the environment was not high. The immediate environmental effects on Chernobyl were devastating but that did not last long. “In that first year, in the most contaminated areas many soil invertebrates were killed, and the small mammal population plummeted,” says BBC news source Nick Beresford at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Lancaster, UK.
Within months radiation levels dropped drastically. Wild life soon began to take advantage of absence of human life in the area. Tests were done that showed a steady incline of large animal life including elk, roe deer and wild boar. “The counts were done only once a year, and they didn’t cover the whole area. But it does suggest that one to two years after the accident populations began to recover.” BBC news source Jim Smith at the University of Portsmouth, UK. By the early 1990s it became even more clear how the animal population was doing. American and Ukrainian ecologist began to run tests on an abundance of small animals in the area and found that the animals were thriving just as well as those outside the disaster zone. Within 10 years small animal populations were showing no negative effects from the radiation. Within these past few years scientists have done many tests showing that the environment is doing very well

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