Five years have passed since the Fukushima Daiichi power plant had a nuclear meltdown after a tsunami crashed into it. Even today 12 miles of land around the power plant is an exclusion zone and the more radioactive areas even kill robots. However certain wildlife are flourishing with no human influence in the 12 mile exclusion zone.
Wild boars in particular are experiencing a surge in population, leaving the surrounding communities scrambling. At the time of the disaster, about 3,000 boars inhabited this land, today that number is closer to 13,000.
While the boar is the Japanese symbol for prosperity and fertility, they are being welcomed, causes an estimated $15 million in agriculture damage.
Okuda Keitokunin an assistant ecology professor told the Japanese Mainichi newspaper that wild boar, along with racoons, have been using the abandoned houses and emptied buildings in the evacuation zone as a place to breed and shelter.
It’s not that this exclusion zone is safe for the boars. Their diet consists of roots, nuts, berries and water all contain high amounts of radiation. While the animals show no signs of harm from the radiation even though samples of Fukushima’s wild boar meat have been shown to contain 300 times the safe amount of radioactive element caesium-137. While the boar are showing no signs of being affected by the radiation, the trees are showing signs of mutation.
The local authorities have put bounties on these boar to try and reign in their numbers but the animals are breeding so quickly that they can not keep up. Nihonmatsu a city about 35 miles from the Fukushima plant dug three mass graves capable of holding 1,800 dead boars. This grave has already been overfilled and now the local authorities are struggling with how to handle all of the carasses.
History shows us a similar pattern at Chernobyl with a boom in post-meltdown wildlife. A recent study showed deer and boar are thriving in the area around the Ukrainian nuclear power plant.
In a statement Jim Smith, one of the authors of the Chernobyl study, explained, “It’s very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are much higher than they were before the accident. This doesn’t mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming, and forestry, are a lot worse.”