Authorities in the Czech Republic have warned that wild boar in the southwest of the country are still so highly contaminated with radioactivity after Chernobyl, that even after 31 years they may be unsafe to eat.
How the high dosages of radiation have been impacting the wildlife surrounding Chernobyl, following the explosion of reactor four in 1986, has been of intense interest. While the levels of radioactivity are still deemed too high for people to return to the region, the animals have been flourishing. Numbers of moose, deer, and boar have rocketed, and wolves have even returned, indicating that the radiation has been no barrier to life.
The boars in the Czech Republic, however, are far from the disaster site, and yet are still seemingly picking up the radiation. This is probably down to how the fallout from the explosion spread across Europe. With strong southerly and easterly winds in the aftermath, the fallout contaminated over 100,000 square kilometers (38,600 square miles) of land, mainly across the Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. But the contaminated material reached much further afield, having been detected in sheep as far west as Wales.
It seems that the wild boar have been particularly vulnerable due to their insatiable taste for fungi. The mushrooms growing in contaminated soil on the forest floor have apparently been concentrating the radioactivity, which the pigs have then consumed with delight, causing the cesium to build up in their bodies.
This, say the Czech State Veterinary Administration, means that up to half the wild boar roaming the southwest of the country are now so highly contaminated they are still unsafe to eat.