Short Wave

Wolves Are Thriving In The Radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Feb. 5, 2024

In 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, releasing radioactive material into northern Ukraine and Belarus. It was the most serious nuclear accident in history. Over one hundred thousand people were evacuated from the surrounding area. But local gray wolves never left — and their population has grown over the years. It's seven times denser than populations in protected lands elsewhere in Belarus. This fact has led scientists to wonder whether the wolves are genetically either resistant or resilient to cancer — or if the wolves are simply thriving because humans aren't interfering with them.

This episode, researchers Shane Campbell-Staton and Cara Love talk through what might be causing this population boom. Plus, why researchers in the field of human cancer are eager to collaborate with them.

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