Radioactive Wolves

What happens to nature after a nuclear accident? And how does wildlife deal with the world it inherits after human inhabitants have fled?

In 1986 a nuclear meltdown at the infamous Chernobyl power plant in present-day Ukraine left miles of land in radioactive ruins. Residents living in areas most contaminated by the disaster were evacuated and relocated by government order, and a no-man’s land of our own making was left to its own devices. In the ensuing 25 years, forests, marshes, fields and rivers reclaimed the land, reversing the effects of hundreds of years of human development. And surprisingly, this exclusion zone, or “dead zone,” has become a kind of post-nuclear Eden, populated by beaver and bison, horses and birds, fish and falcons – and ruled by wolves.

Access to the zone is now permitted, at least on a limited basis, and scientists are monitoring the surviving wildlife in the area, trying to learn how the various species are coping with the invisible blight of radiation. As the top predators in this new wilderness, wolves best reflect the condition of the entire ecosystem because if the wolves are doing well, the populations of their prey must also be doing well. Accordingly, a key long-term study of the wolves has been initiated to determine their health, their range, and their numbers.

Radioactive Wolves examines the state of wildlife populations in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, an area that, to this day, remains too radioactive for human habitation.

Radioactive Wolves premiered Wednesday, October 19 at 8/7 c.

  • SoulOfEmerald

    O.M.G. I want to own this already (just viewing it once will simply *not* be enough!!) for sooooo many reasons. I have loved wolves for more than half my life, and thus, have eagerly eaten up any and all research on them, that I have been lucky enough to come across…plus, I am very aware of the Chernobyl disaster, as I have always been an avid history student. And last, but not least, NATURE has an exceptional record for their quality of programming!!

  • tomatonic!

    Oooh! can’t wait for this to broadcast on PBS! Nature is such an awesome TV program!

  • Lori Reed

    I was in college when Chernobyl happened, and I am very excited to see that there has been a show done about the after-affects! My only concern is that I cannot get broadcast T.V., I don’t get cable, and internet is my only source of Nature programming. I don’t want to have to wait for this episode to go on sale, so I am going to have to find a friend that will let me watch this at his/her house. But I am going to watch it!

  • Becky N

    @Lori Reed: you can watch it online…

  • Tyler

    i have to agree with SoulOfEmerald.Also,PBS is not only for adults,I am ten

  • SoulOfEmerald

    Tyler, bless you. I was 9 when Chernobyl happened…and already into Nature PBS (among many other amazing PBS shows)! :)

  • Lotus

    Can’t wait to watch this!

  • filimon

    LPB es la mejor forma de conoser sobre casos reales que sucedieron en el pasado y el precente necesitamos mas mas informacion asi

  • Joy-Ann U.

    I can’t wait to watch this.

  • Erik

    I too have loved wolves, and, plz tell me, is there more than just this video? im only a mid teen as well lol.

  • kahuku girl

    I remember Nat Geo writing about this area…and the question was one of generation defects in animals, allowable and viable on-going research and access VS. the trend toward voyeuristic tourism (yep-that’s right..) in the area. A cash cow wrapped in radioactivity. Unbelievable.
    I am interested in seeing if this show addresses those issues at all, or simply a look at food chain activities with a top predator.

  • Jenny

    Where can we watch it online today?

  • Sunny

    Can I watch this on-line on my laptop instead of the television, tonight?

  • Mark

    What does someone have to study to do something like these guys? What an awesome things to be doing!

    The best episode of Nature ever.

  • John

    What a Great program; Radioactive Wolves has got to be one of the most interesting , programs I have ever seen.
    BEAUTIFUL ! “Mother Nature always bats last…

  • Vic

    Just saw this on PBS! How wonderful to see such beauty growing in a “ruin” of man. Our worst sins can be our greatest glory. This is where I get a sense of the presents of God!

  • Mike

    Perfect video to show ecological succession in Biology/Ecology!

  • Sandra

    Just saw it, great work!

    I wonder if the DNA test on the wolf bones revealed anything, they never followed up on that.

  • phil

    WOW! I woke up from my nap to find this playing and I was blown away. The story is excellent and the dramatic images are amazing. This is a real look at how mom can fix anything we do, even a nuclear disaster.

  • Ellen

    EXCELLENT program. Thank you.

  • Abigail

    Will this Air again anytime soon?
    I missed it :(

  • William

    I had to miss the latter half of “A murder of crows”. The next day I found it was available on this site. I wonder if anyone knows what the turn around time is from the time a show airs to the time it becomes available to stream off this site? I had to miss the “Radioactive wolves” episode. :(

  • Tina

    I thought of all of us..the whole world and how astonished and uplifted we will be upon seeing this story. I could not stop thinking about it all night. God and The Earth have so much greater wonder than our measley minds can grasp!

  • Rebecca

    This was about the most fascinating nature program I’ve watched in quite some time. I’m definitely going to buy the video. Even if animals aren’t your thing, just the photography and information about the area alone is worth the watch. It is amazing to me how these animals are thriving. It is an eerily beautiful landscape now. I’m ready to watch it again. Thanks for airing this – - I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • erik

    i too agree that this also proves that God has created man, by the way, go to google, search the name of this, and u can find it online to whahct.

  • serg

    Photos and video wolves which live nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Photo by trapcamera.

  • Bev

    The worst nuclear disaster in history…and just because WE aren’t there to “reclaim and improve” it, the area has become a paradise. How thunderously ironic.

  • Kathleen Hill

    THis is the most amazing program I have ever seen on television. It is like an epic story from some ancient text of destruction and redemption.

  • Steve

    I have to say, although interesting, my wife and I were disappointed in the end. There was a lot of hoopla about the radioactivity, how it would affect the wolves compared to the “control” group, etc. Yet in the end, nothing was even mentioned. If no effect was found, you should say so. I suspect most people expect the population to be a bunch of glowing mutants, which clearly isn’t the case. One other nit. The German researchers that collared the wolf wore masks. You stated that the wolves undoubtedly were contaminated and that breathing one hair could poison the researchers. I laughed out loud at that statement. The wolves are obviously healthy and probably snif each other and lick themselves. Shouldn’t they all be poisoned?

    Criticism aside, my family loves Nature. Thanks for producing such a great program that brings us together to enjoy the world around us.

  • Kim

    I liked the program. I also learned a new Russian word бой which is Russian for fight.

  • beerwisdom

    I just watched it and it is amazing to hear Belarusian language and see beautiful Belarus sitting here in Canada.The most incredible thing that the nature is having healthy life in the shadow of nuclear disaster.
    Thanks to Americans and Belarusians who made the movie live.

  • sabotabi

    Have you guys seen this film:
    It’s called “Chernobyl Reclaimed: An Animal Takeover “

  • Catherine

    What an amazing opening show to the new season~!! I will admit I have seen this episode TEN separate times FANTASTIC the wildlife filming is magnificent–what a beautiful country~ I guess it just goes to show what can
    happen when nature has a chance to re-take the land…..certainly took over after that nuclear accident!! how grateful I am that mother nature won this one. Thanks again of course to PBS and all those responsible for
    bringing more beautiful images of natures wondrous creatures in to my home. HAVE GOT to love beavers–in the show called “Europes largest rodent”–now that is engineering in its finest form! and any footage of wolves in the wild I can watch I am grateful for. Hat’s Off to a brand new season of fantastic wildlife programming on Nature

  • Julia Orr

    Albeit amazing, I have to say I find this disturbing. First, we humans use a un biodegradable, totally toxic form of energy that goes horribly wrong – no surprises there- and then we “use” the animal kingdom again to experiment on and ultimately determine when it will be safe for humans to return resulting in the eradication of the wildlife because it’s dangerous, unsafe, disease ridden etc etc. Presumably rebuild some toxic energy plant whether it be nuclear or otherwise and round the merry go round we go again. It’s the same old use, abuse, use system that will ultimately be our demise but hopefully not the demise of the entire eco system.

  • Chris

    Another great Nature episode! I was blown away by the scientists’ understanding of the wolves. I was disappointed, though, that the effects of radiation on the animals were hardly discussed at all. What doses are these animals living with? Are they actually any more likely to die due to the radiation?

    @Julia, I don’t understand why you consider it abuse to reintroduce and track endangered species. As the program showed, the species thrive, meaning they were put in a relatively safe place compared to their native habitats. Also, the experiments are not for determining when it’s safe for human individuals- we already have better ways of knowing that. The experiments are most important for determining what’s safe for animal populations.

  • westmatt

    It’s encouraging that the man-made environment melts into the landscape so soon. We have the impression that we’re far more important than we really are.

  • Tia

    i love this show. i wish i could help the wolves with out money.

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  • Hackear Wifi

    THis is the most amazing program I have ever seen on television. It is like an epic story from some ancient text of destruction and redemption.

  • Martha Collins

    I live in Montana. I liked the program on Radioactive wolves. But the scene with the biologist checking the pups was fake. It bothers me that Nature would stoop to this low of created scenes. The den was not a real wolf den, the pups would not be sitting at the entrance. I can not believe that the rest of the film is real. These kind of recreations need to be posted in the beginning of your films.
    You have lost credibility with your created films.
    Martha Collins
    Bozeman, MT

  • eloise lanum

    Want to buy this so I can pass it out among friends/family. Even if people don’t survive after nuclear war, the earth & living beings will go on! I was brought up in the era when it meant the TOTAL end of everything – ‘get under your desk’ and all that.
    Wolves have one of my favorites. They are necessary in the chain of things, yet people single them out & want to wipe them ALL out.

  • katesisco

    2011 tuna with radioactivity from DaIchi found off west coast US. High levels indicate high initial dose. Tuna are meat predators and previously had been found to expend radioactivity in the swimming muscles. These top predators have high energy expenditures in hunting food, in the same way the top predators of Chernobyl do.
    A wolf in a zoo cage will not survive radioactivity.

  • katesisco

    2011 Tuna from Japan have been discovered to have high levels of radioactivity from Daichi in the waters off the west coast of US. Tuna are top predators requiring meat for their high metabolism expenditure. Radioactive food sources are concentrated and are also expended. This high was much higher than expected for the high metabolism in tuna. Which meant that they had amassed an extremely high level of radioactivity to evince such after a energy expensive cross ocean swim.

    The Chernobyl wolves are also top predators. They are eating radioactive food, and expending energy to find and consume same. Their high level of activity bleeds of radioactivity. A wolf in a zoo cage experiencing this level of radioactivity would die.

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