I just watched the program Nature, on PBS, about the environment around Chernobyl 25 years after the nuclear accident. It featured two Russian scientists, one of whom has spent his life studying wolves.
Following the Chernobyl accident, the forest in the immediate area turned red. Now it is green again. They observed the wolf packs and the young cubs. They also watched the doormice. They found that 4 to 6 percent of the doormice had abnormalities, presumably caused by radiation. The rest of the dormice population was healthy, normal, and thriving.
The two scientists did not remain in the area for long at a time because of the radiation danger, and no humans live there.
In two weeks of observation, they located 17 wolf packs and around 120 individual wolves. The one wolf expert had an extraordinary ability to call the wolves by howling. Wolves appeared out of the trees, howling as well.
White-tailed eagles, ravens, songbirds, and the carp in the river seemed well and healthy. They spotted a large boar.
The beaver were not doing too well since they are prey to the wolves.
The scenery and the beautiful winter light on the trees and the rivers gave the impression of a magical world.
The conclusion the scientists drew was that the population of wolves and the habitat in general was exactly the same, no better and no worse than other natural, undisturbed wilderness areas.
This is an area where humans cannot go because of the high levels of radiation. It is interesting to recall that, as humans, we are the weakest of the earth’s creatures, having lost much of our original physical strength over the course of the centuries while we have removed ourselves further and further from the natural world, and as we make a habit of living in artificial environments. Other primates for example, even the small ones, are much stronger than we are. We are no longer well adapted to living in nature.
This study, done by the two Russian scientists, seemed, in its own way, remarkably hopeful and uplifting, for the future of animals and the earth.