‘Cocky and aggressive’ radioactive pigs set up camp in Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone

Scientists say that local wild boar have taken control of an area once inhabited by 160,000 people but now abandoned because of high radiation following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster

The big pigs are said to be ‘cocky and aggressive’

Radioactive hybrid pigs have reportedly taken over part of the nuclear exclusion zone in Fukushima.

Scientists discovered the threat near the former Japanese power plant in the urban areas vacated by humans in the wake of the 2011 meltdown at the plant.

They found the Japanese Boar – the country’s local wild boar – have overrun an area that was once inhabited by 160,000 people, according to a study on the wildlife in the region.

The boars are described as cocky and aggressive. They also started interbreeding with the escaped domesticated pigs that were left behind by their previous owners.

A wild boar walks on a street at a residential area in an evacuation zone near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
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Image:

X90040)

This has resulted in a new kind of boar-pig hybrid from the initial exclusion zone – which is 20km of the nuclear plant site and where radiation levels were believed to be the highest.

This horrifying radioactive concoction now makes up to 10 per cent of the local population.

It is feared these hairy terrors have the wild-smarts of the boar combined with the domestication habits of the pigs.

Humans trying to reclaim their former homes around the Fukushima plant have found themselves at war with the new settlers.

The Fukushima exclusion zones have been gradually lifted in stages since 2011 for people to return home.

This map from the study shows the boar population as the black dots scattered around the evacuated zones as the colours show the severity of radiation
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Image:

The Royal Society)

However, some of the aggressive swines have stood their ground and attacked humans.

In some cases, humans have resorted to hunting them down.

Details of how radiation affected local wildlife were recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal.

The study found the hybrids did not display signs of mutation, despite being contaminated with up to 300 times the safe human dosage of radioactive isotope caesium-137.

Scientists suggest that while the interbreeding of the species has had no ill effects, they think the pig genes will eventually dilute the hybrid genetic makeup until “the introgressed genes will eventually disappear in this area”.

It is not uncommon for urban areas to become “rewilded” following human evacuations – similar to what happened in the area surrounding the site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.