Belorussian wolf within the Exclusion Zone


(Updated 12 June 2012)

In light of the the current crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor…Choose your future carefully! It is you who has to live in it!




“We walked into a wasteland, grey and desolate. The buildings had deteriorated, windows had been smashed. Trees and weeds had grown over everything. It was a ghost town.” (Pripyat)


Abandoned town of Pripyat Pripyat Fairground-most contaminated part of town(Image Credit: TimmSuess.com) A silent abandoned sentinal-Pripyat town-Chernobyl(Image Credit:TimmSuess.com)

(Tim Mousseau – Professor of Biological Sciences from the University of South Carolina – describing his first visit to Chernobyl)

Along with Anders Møller, an ornithologist and evolutionary biologist from the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, Tim Mousseau has conducted on-site research into the effects of radiation on humans and animals, with highly controversial results.

The basic facts of the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident in the Ukraine — the worst in history are well known. At 1.23am on April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Soviet nuclear power plant exploded, after an electrical test went horribly wrong. The radioactive material released was many times greater than the fallout over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, polluting about 80,000 square miles of land across Europe and spreading radioactive rain as far as north-west Ireland. In the wake of the accident, more than 300,000 people were evacuated and an 800 square mile exclusion zone created around the reactor – “the zone of alienation.”


Pripyat was built as a town for the Chernobyl power station workers. It was viewed a model town. The apartment blocks were alive with fir trees and rose beds. It was a town of young people and growing families.

25 years on the abandoned town of Pripyat has become a wildlife haven. The Land of Wolves.There have been sightings of wolves, bears, wild boar and moose wandering the deserted streets, and swifts swooping round abandoned office blocks. Likewise sightings of deer and wolves have been reported at Kiev Oblast, situated near the border with Belarus, in the zone of alienation in Northern Ukraine. The only other resident is a solitary guard. Prior to the accident the population had been around 50,000.


The site of the Red Forest remains one of the most contaminated radio-active sites in the world today. 

 Exclusion zone sign-outside zoneWalking in the land of WolvesKiev Oblast_Geiger Counter_Dosimeter

Although radiation levels have dropped significantly since 1986, there are still "hot" regions. the most contaminated areas measuring 300 microSieverts per hour on the Geiger counter, the equivalent of 1,200 times normal radiation levels.


Therefore it is surprising the vegetation in the zone of alienation has flourished. Like a strange nature reserve, flora and fauna, in the absence of human interference have reclaimed the abandoned land. Scientists have found that since 1990, growth flourished and the ecological effect has been positive. Eighty percent of the zone is now forested; before the disaster, it was just 20 percent. A total of 240                Russian Wolves - Chernobyl and PripyatForest City-Pripyat 25 years onChernobyl-Pripyat town-25 years on-forested species of animals have been counted within the exclusion zone, most of which were present only in low numbers before the disaster. Giant catfish swim in radioactive water that surround the six nuclear reactors. Since nobody is going to go fishing, they’ll continue to breed and grow.That one should never eat the mushrooms or berries found there and that some of the clover might have six leaves is however another story.

So, could it be that if wildlife can return so soon, nuclear radiation and power might not be as dangerous as we first thought?


The first discovery that Professors Møller and Mousseau made was that birds in the fallout zone were suffering increased levels of genetic mutations. The examination of 20,000 Barn Swallows found crippled toes, deformed beaks, malformed tails, irregularly shaped eyes and tumours. Some birds had red plumage where it should have been blue, or blue where it should have been red.

Because of contaminated food supplies, bird species have declined by more than 50 per cent in high-radiation areas. Only a fraction of the Swallows and Great Tits are reproducing, and of those that do lay eggs, only five per cent hatch. Less than a third of birds survive to adulthood. Professors Mousseau and Møller could confirm that these abnormalities were genetic by examining the Swallows’ sperm.

They discovered a connection between antioxidants, radiation and plumage colour: showing birds with the brightest plumage are more likely to die.

Antioxidants in both humans and birds, help counteract the effects of radiation Brightly plumaged birds migrating long distances eg Swallows, produce a lot of free radicals as a by-product of their very high metabolic rate and , resulting in tissue damage ~ Professor Mousseau.

Supplies of antioxidants in their blood and liver offset this.  Large amounts of antioxidants are directed to the female’s eggs, causing the bright yellow yolk.

If their destination is in highly contaminated areas, they find it impossible to replenish energy reserves preventing Swallows from maintaining their bright plumage or re-directing enough antioxidants into their eggs, so few chicks hatch.

It continues down through the food chain. In the areas of highest contamination, fewer butterflies, bumblebees, grasshoppers, dragonflies and spiders are found. "The fact that insects, including pollinators, are sensitive to elevated contaminants has a significant impact on the rest of the ecosystem," ~ Professor Mousseau. There is also another tragedy here. Professor Mousseau has started working with the Hospital for Radiation Biology, in Kiev, on a long-term study of humans who live in the area: more than 11,000 adults and 2,000 children in the Narodichesky region, 50 miles from Chernobyl.What will be the consequences for the children of these children????

The incidence among locals of cancer, birth defects and reduced lifespan is alarmingly high.

Update: 10th June 2012

Re: In discussing the conflicting research findings on whether wildlife really is recovering in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, one deadly serious point the optimists who think this land is going to recover from the worst industrial accident in history should take into consideration is:

“While iodine-131 decayed long ago and the strontium and cesium are slowly becoming less potentially lethal, the hot particles of plutonium-241 scattered across the landscape are actually decaying into an even more toxic isotope, americium-241. A more powerful emitter of alpha radiation than plutonium, americium is also more soluble and can easily find its way into the food chain. Americium-241, in turn, decays into neptunium-237, another energetic alpha emitter that has a half-life of more than 2 million years. As of yet, the long-term effect of americium-241 on animals remains largely unknown.” ~ Wired Magazine

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You have walked with me through the Land of Wolves…There will without doubt be many and varied opinions on the use of nuclear energy as a "safe, clean, low-carbon" energy source. But the hard cold fact that remains, seems to be that we cannot live WITH it yet neither can we live WITHOUT IT.

I for one just hope that we too will not be walking in "The Land of Wolves."


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  1. excellent post, wolfie! i have never liked having reactors around. there was one in washington, not far from where i lived and am returning to. it was dismantled years ago, as the residents didnt want it there. the core was floated upriver and then carried by train to a central washington location and buried. im glad its gone. we dont need nuclear power. we can live with wind power and water power.
    japan, i think, is in deep trouble.

    • Thanks Kirstin! 🙂 Sounds like you had a lucky escape! Did you know they didn’t fully shut down Chernobyl till the year 2000?? Do take your time guys! Yes…I think Japan is in deep trouble too…saw this a few hours ago from Reuters; “Japan’s damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.” Bring on the wind and water power! As you said 🙂 x

  2. Well Wolfie, that was some well researched post, some of it was a bit above my head, but I think I get the jist of it, and it doesn’t paint a very pretty comforting picture.
    I went into a mode of thinking, Oh good the environment is going back to nature, that’s a change, normally Nature is being constantly robbed and depleted, But reading on and it appears that the consequences are rather dire, and the genetics defects appear to be a very real fact, and therefore a threat to us all, i have said before and I’ll repeat, that I wouldn’t want to come back to this world unless it had a great turnaround and massive change of attitude and values from the ones above, and I don’t mean God and his angels. I think I’d rather go back to a time when life went on at a slower pace, albeit, it may have been more uncomfortable and grubby, but with nothing to compare, it isn’t relevant.
    I’m off out into the garden now, to give Mother Nature little nurturing.

    • How good of you to stop by Arlene! Despite the fact I STILL haven’t got round to responding to any emails… 😉 I enjoyed doing this post, but it’s been a catastrophic nightmare to load from Live Writer and 6 atttempts later it’s still resetting its layout and changing the formatting without my even being there!!
      You’re thinking exactly the way I intended…re environment going back to nature for a change vs genetic defects. But don’t you think it’s interesting, in an unsettling sort of way, granted, that nature is proving to us mere mortals that it is perfectly capable of dealing with our stupidity in its own way…Even with the genetic deformities wildlife etc is flourishing despite the radioactivity. Strikes me that the only ones nature has wisely left out of the equation is the human race that just gets radiation sickness and other related health issues before dying off completely! Earth’s problem sorted!! Unless you’re human!!

      • Mother Nature will win in the end Wolfie, whether we destroy ourselves, or should I say, the men in white coats destroy us all, Nature will give a massive helping hand, and laugh all over her face, saying I WARNED YOU

    • Absolutely Arlene! You and I are very much in tune on this subject…nature is reclaiming her abandoned lands, and in spite of the horrors we have inflicted on it and the radio-active legacy we have left. It is so telling that she is ensuring life goes on and even flourishes in a dark and dangerous land, whilst also ensuring those who caused it will never live there again. We have indeed been warned.

  3. This is truly an interesting posting Icywolfy explaining in good detail what has become of towns and cities within the dark shadow of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor accident and yes the fallout from that explosion was ten times that of the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

    The radioactive cloud from Chernobyl was blown towards Sweden and was reported as being around ten thousand times the normal limits within its air space. Since that catastrophic accident back in 1986 there has been many
    animals, birds and of course humans dying of radiatiation and cancer related illnesses, awful abnormalities with births, and and as a direct result there will be many centuries of radioactivity experienced there.

    Initially all the plants, animals and birds died within the most contaminated regions, which was Belarus, Northern Ukraine and Southern Russia, but from your excellently added blog we can now see that many of these animals and birds are once again flourishing, which is indeed a very nice piece of information…

    Thank you for sharing this one Icywolfy and for attaching the up-to-date slideshow that you have added on Skydrive too, I will be commenting on those soon.

    Have a wondrously fine rest of day today and a nice evening too…

    Androgoth XXx

    • Greetings from the Icy Realm Master Vampire of the Gothic Realm 🙂 Thank you for your interesting and well informed comment. Your thoughts are always appreciated. It is true the wildlife is flourishing, but it does so with a dark side and in the shadow of radioactivity. 25 years later the contamination is still very great in many areas despite it dropping significantly over this period of time, in others areas. The biggest problem re environmental contamination, is the half lives of radionucleotides; Caesium(30,000yrs ), Strontium (29,000yrs), and Plutonium(24,000yrs). Over those years each will decay to half their previous concentrations and as such will contaminate the land and make it radioactive for years. They are also easily injested and passed through the food chain adversely affecting the wildlife still further. But…unlike humans the wildlife would appear to be far more resiliant and resistent to this threat man has created. I’ve added new photos to the slideshow photos…so you have plenty of viewing material to keep you occupied and out of ghoulish trouble!!

  4. Erm, and and… lol What a ttt… typo lol sorry
    about that one Icywolfy, I think my keyboard
    is Double Dutch or maybe suffering from too
    many long comments? lol Have a wicked one
    now and grab your polish and duster… lol

    Androgoth XXx

  5. Whew! Alot of researching, I’d like to write about some issues but unsure how to post links on wordypress to site all the sources. Thank you for the informative posts though quite a sobering reality – now as then with Fukushima this devastation caused to precious lives and the workers in direct contact with the site aware of certain risks. Yes a must to choose wisely as we live with our choice for power and spot on Kirsten no need for nuclear here with alternative power generating sources a plenty; abundance of wind, natural gas and believe it or not… some success even via solar power!

    • That was the short version! lol 😉 Could easily have expanded the whole Chernobyl subject into several different posts left to my own devices! “The difference between the Fukushima accident and Chernobyl, they say, is that at Chernobyl a huge fire released large amounts of many radioactive materials, including fuel particles, in smoke. At Fukushima Daiichi, only the volatile elements, such as iodine and caesium, are bubbling off the damaged fuel. But these substances could nevertheless pose a significant health risk outside the plant.” (Reuters)
      This post is a sobering reality but one that also shows us just how well nature can take care of itself in spite of the shameless interference and lack of any regard from human side. Wildlife is adapting…humans are not!! I do wonder if our governments will ever be brave and bold enough to take seriously these alternative energy sources you and Kirstin so rightly champion, and do something about it. I think it is up to us, the people, to stand up and force them to!

  6. Excellent post, Wolfie! As a former ICBM combat crewman and later as a USAF Pararescueman my training was focused on the aftermath of a nuclear exchange. It’s ironic for me to think of radiation hazards from the peaceful application of nuclear energy.

  7. Thank you RM! And it is a great pleasure to see you here gracing my blog page again! Is this also a good sign that you are feeling a little healthier and “RMsih” now? lol 😉
    It’s always interesting to read about your thoughts on such matters. Your close involvement with matters nuclear add a new dimension and perspective to the issue. I’m sure you do find it ironic….and I would say that in order for The application of nuclear energy to be “peaceful” and indeed remotely safe, one of the most vital but so far fatally missing requirements is 24/7 human VIGILANCE!! VIGILANCE AT ALL COSTS!!!

  8. i have a nuclear plant about forty miles from where i am if a big accident were to happen id be in the danger zone a sobering thought never liked nuclear energy at whatever price id rather use a candle xxjen

    • What a horrible thought! Move away! A radio-active “jennyozzy” is not a pleasing thought! Radioactive iodine from Fukushima has already reached Scotland and Oxfordshire and tho they say its not at levels dangerous to human health…well they would wouldn’t they? But how can we sure of that? I’m sure they wouldn’t be too quick to admit to it if they were wrong. After all our plants are supposed to be so very much safer aren’t they? Couldn’t possibly happen here could it? I somehow doubt these existing plants would exist where they do, if those who gave the go-ahead to build and locate them in these areas were then made to go and live within their danger zones. I’m quite certain that they then would much much rather use a candle themselves!

  9. hi icey thanks for visit they are saying some of the radiation and iodine has reached london in the air from japan so no ones safe from mans disasters xxjen

    • And thank you very much for yours too It was most welcome, I realise the subject matter isn’t everybody’s “cup of tea” and is possibly best avoided altogether! But seeing as the government and the media seem hell-bent on focussing almost exclusivly on Lybia sparing only a cursory nod towards Japan and other recent disaster struck countries, I make no apology for posting on what mayfor some be an unsavoury subject! As to the radioactive iodine, they say it’s harmless to humans so far, but look at some of the wildly inaccurate figures they were throwing up at Fukushima! Some were way too high, but what if the these UK figures are way too low? I doubt anyone’d be too quick to admit to it if they were!!! x 🙂

  10. Interesting and well researched post Wolfie. My feelings are Man needs the Earth, the Earth does not need him. Mother nature will survive and return, man will not. I do not like Nuclear Power stations, but I understand why they were built, but after what happened in Russia, and Japan, it is foolish to build more. They will just have to find an alternate source of energy

    • If the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor crisis continues to be brushed under the carpet called LYBIA/NO-FLY ZONE etc, and no alternative energy sources are found, then I fear it will only be a matter of time before, at the mercy of our own Nuclear Power Plants, we will all be plunged into “The Land of Wolves.” And it is mankind not the wildlife that will not adapt and survive in it. “I walked in the Land of Wolves and I saw life where there should have been none. And as the nuclear legacy dictated, I died in the Land of Wolves…” Life will go on, deformed or not. Mankind, as you have also said, will not.

  11. After Fukushima accident we saw the sad things that still are going on around Tsjernobil.
    Misformed kids. animals…and so on .
    we live also with a nuclear plant When we look out of the bedroom window we see the smoke coming out f the towers.
    but Wolfy When something like Japan happens here it will be like domino stones here.
    another nuclear plant also very close and chemical factories.
    i feel so sorry we destroy our flora and fauna.
    tx for ur info

    • The price we pay for our energy is much higher than we choose to remember until accidents such as these occur. The domino effect is a very concerning prospect but when all is going well it is all too easy not to think of such things. We delude ourselves. Though not so easy perhaps if you live with a reactor so close. Bring on the windmills! A breath of fresh air for the environment 🙂

  12. Interesting post. Reminds me of the Martin Cruz Smith book – Wolves Eat Dogs. A lot of it is set round Pripyat. Very atmospheric. Like your post.
    The jury seems to be still out on the consequences of the accident for wildlife in the area.
    Oh you might also like the Christy Moore song (written by Tim Dennehy I think) – the song is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1_IpbBjGpQ

    • Thank you 🙂 I didn’t know about “Wolves Eat Dogs” but hopefully I will be able to track down a copy. I would be very interested to read that. And you’re right about the Christy Moore song I DO like it! It has a haunting quality to it and I find myself drawn back to it again and again…the link is being well used thank you, and the song well-played 🙂

  13. I believe this is one of mankinds most idiotic assalts on the Earth! I love the first paragraph of this Icewolfie! Remarkable read and heartfelt. My heart wells with anger, saddness, fear and passion as I write.
    Worthy piece as always. Rx

  14. Greetings! Spirit of Wolf and of the Raven cross paths once again in a brief parting of the mists of time.
    And so the Raven has flown with me through the “Land of Wolves” My heart too “wells with anger, saddness, fear and passion.” Fly always in peace Raven, even in the Land of Wolves…:)

  15. Hi Europa 🙂

    I see you posted about the No-Clear Green. Very intersting information here you’ve got. Loved the photos. Sorry I could not walk with you in the land of Wolves- CHERNOBYL’S DEAD CITY.. I’m in Orbit, and I’ve sent my robot N1 from AstrOceanOmy System. 🙂

    Europa I’ll be back to you in a few days…as I’ve got few similer intersting topics as this one… Its all about the Dead cites.

    Clear Skies,

  16. Greetings Mundhir! Very thoughtful of you to send your N1 from AstrOceanOmy System! I hope you’re looking after yourself in orbit – keep an eye on the background radiation levels 😉

    Talking of Chernobyl’s dead city the ones of Fukushima are en-route to the same fate I think…”Sometimes I just feel so lonely. I ask myself ‘where have all the people gone?’ They’ve been driven away by fear. It’s like looking up at the sky at night, being used to seeing the moon and stars and seeing nothing but blackness. It scares me.” ~Michiko Susuki (City Worker)

    Hurry up back Mundhir, I would like to view these “similar interesting topics” you speak of :)….Clear non-ionising skies 😉

  17. As soon as your new laptop is in fine
    and wicked, ready to go style are we
    adding something to your blogging?
    well not we exactly, I mean YOU lol
    This posting is one of your best, one
    that offers a powerful expression of
    Nuclear accidents, and the realities
    of such an extreme and dire set of
    consequences… I really like this one
    Icywolfy of the Icy Realm and am
    looking forward to your next offering

    Androgoth XXx

  18. hi icey hows you in wolfy land ive given up the chase wolfy entices us all over to wls and now hes bu gone off again saying its all too boring should we bite his butt and show him hes wrong lol xxjen

    • Hi jen…hope you’re over that cold now…you really must stay away from those dodgy zombies you know! Yes…no pleasing that Wolfy these days…so temperamental don’t you think? lol 😉

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