Radioactive Gray Wolf Escaped Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone

This radioactive gray wolf covered hundreds of miles in a few short weeks.

For those of us not old enough to remember, in April 1986, there was a nuclear reactor meltdown at a power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The once-thriving city now boasts a population of less than 700 due to its proximity to the irradiated exclusion zone. Because the human population in the area is so small, it's become a giant wildlife sanctuary, according to a study the European Journal of Wildlife Research recently published.

Researchers recently tracked a wolf from the area, as it left this exclusion zone. And, he didn't just step outside the edge. The gray wolf covered 230 miles outside the Chernobyl exclusion zone in just three weeks. This major departure from the area is prompting a number of questions for researchers.

Will other wolves follow suit? Will other animals leave the area as well? Is the area becoming overpopulated due to limited predators and low human activity? Some believe the unmanaged area led this wolf to leave his wolf pack in search of new territory.

It isn't known if the wolf in question was male or female, or if it was old or young. Wildlife officials do know, however, that the GPS collar finally stopped working, which leaves even more unanswered questions in this case. American gray wolves have flirted with endangered status for years. For that reason, this particular area is getting a lot of attention from researchers around the world.

A non-profit group for animal and pet activism from the United States has been extracting puppies of once-domestic dog families from the area. Other once-domesticated animals are also leading to the area's overpopulation. For more information on the puppies, you can visit Clean Futures Fund. These puppies are available for adoption in the United States and Canada. It's unknown if there any mutations due to the levels or radiation.

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