From Huffington Post:

What happens to the environment when humans disappear? Thirty years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, booming populations of wolf, elk and other wildlife in the vast contaminated zone in Belarus and Ukraine provide a clue.

On April 26, 1986, a botched test at the nuclear plant in Ukraine, then a Soviet republic, sent clouds of smoldering radioactive material across large swathes of Europe. Over 100,000 people had to abandon the area permanently, leaving native animals the sole occupants of a cross-border “exclusion zone” roughly the size of Luxembourg.

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From The Guardian:

Dawn in the Naliboki forest: mist over the marshes and bats skittering in birch trees. Above the clearing, stars are fading into a pale sky. We’re in deepest God-knows-where in one of Europe’s largest wild forests. Zoologist Vadim Sidorovich crouches in the half-light studying the track; I’m barely breathing, so intense is the silence. A brown bear, Vadim says. He traces a finger over the prints of its front paws, and – two ovals – its back paws. I can see the claw marks. A dozen bears roam this part of the forest.

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From Reuters:

KHRAPKOVO, Belarus (Reuters) – Wolf fur grows thickest in winter, so Belarussian hunter Vladimir Krivenchik only sets his traps once snow is on the ground.

He and his wife live on the edge of the Chernobyl exclusion zone – 2,600 square km (1,000 square miles) of land on the Belarus-Ukraine border that was contaminated by a nuclear disaster in 1986.

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