In 1986 a nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine left miles of land in radioactive ruins. Residents living in areas most-contaminated by the disaster were evacuated and relocated by government order, and a toxic no-man’s land was left to its own devices.
Against all odds, the ensuing 25 years has seen forests, marshes, fields and rivers reclaim the land, reversing the effects of hundreds of years of human development. And surprisingly, this exclusion zone, or ‘dead zone’, has become a kind of post-nuclear Eden, populated by beaver and bison, horses and birds, fish and falcons – and ruled by wolves.
As the top predators in this new wilderness, wolves best reflect the condition of the entire ecosystem because if the wolves are doing well, the populations of their prey must also be doing well. Accordingly, a key long-term study of the wolves has been initiated to determine their health, their range, and their numbers.
Radioactive Wolves examines the state of wildlife populations in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, an area that, to this day, remains too radioactive for human habitation.