Chernobyl wildlife scavenge on fish

A recent study found animals scavenging in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. ©Mark Hakannson

Wildlife in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone — the area surrounding the nuclear disaster in Ukraine — have been documented scavenging on fish carcasses, offering more evidence that wildlife is abundant in the area. As part of the camera trap study, researchers detected 10 mammal and five bird species scavenging on fish carcasses placed on the river shorelines. This mimicked the natural activity that normally occurs when currents bring dead fish to the shore. The team found 98 percent of the fish carcasses were consumed by scavengers within a week. While past research showed evidence of wildlife in the exclusion zone, this is the first time white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), American mink (Neovison vison) and river otter (Lutra lutra)were spotted. This new evidence suggests resources from water can flow to the land.

Read the study in Food Webs.