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Television Premiere Review: Radioactive Wolves on PBS

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The nuclear accident at Chernobyl was a horrible thing. I remember being in tears for those poor people who lived in the area. At the time, I didn’t really think much about the wildlife that lived in or traveled through Chernobyl. While it was possible for the people who lived in the area to be evacuated and relocated, it wasn’t really possible to evacuate or warn the wildlife that lived in the affected area.

PBS Nature is back for its 30th season with a look what happened to the wolves and other wildlife in the affected areas near Chernobyl. Radioactive Wolves premiered on Wednesday, October 19th on PBS and will now lead PBS primetime on Wednesdays. The season premier examined the health of the wolves in the dead zone around Chernobyl. The dead zone is the area that is still too dangerously radioactive for people to live in even 25 years after the nuclear power plant meltdown that happened on April 25th in 1986.

Since wolves are at the top of the food chain, scientists felt that they could get an accurate feel for how the nuclear accident has affected all wildlife and nature in the area. Since this area has been virtually untouched by humans for the past 25 years, nature has started to reclaim the area. Buildings are falling down. Cars and machinery have rusted and been taken over with vegetation. Man made canals are turning back to the marsh they began as.

Radioactive Wolves is shot in the area in Belarus and the Ukraine that was affected by the fallout and is still off limits to humans. Belarus and the Ukraine were formed when the United Nations broke up and both countries monitor the borders. Teams of scientists from both sides worked to gather data.

While the main focus is the wolves in the area, a number of different animals were examined including falcons, fish, horses, beaver and bison. Scientists took readings on remains of bones as well as on the fur of wolves to determine what level of radiation they were still being exposed to. Despite the exposure to radiation, the wolves and other wildlife seem to be thriving here in an area that is off limits to humans. It’s too soon to know, though, what long term effects may exist.

This was a truly touching look at the lives of the wolves and other animals in the area. I loved the close up looks at the wolf pups in their dens as well as the falcon chicks. It was so heart breaking to think of what affect the fallout may have long term but everyone does seem to be thriving in an area that they cannot be hunted or disturbed by humans.

PBS Nature will continue with its Fall 2011 premier programs to include The Animal House on November 2nd, Jungle Eagle on November 9 and My Life as a Turkey on November 16. I cannot wait to see the next one! You can find streaming episodes, teacher’s guides and more at pbs.org/wnet/nature.

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About Ellen Christian

Ellen is a busy mom of two teenagers who left the corporate world in 2008 to focus on a more eco-friendly life. She lives in rural Vermont where she juggles family, two blogs and a career in social media. You can find her at http://www.confessionsofanover-workedmom.com/ and http://the-socialites-closet.blogspot.com/.