"Whatever negative effects there are from radiation, they are not as large as the negative effects of having people there," study co-author Jim Smith of the University of Portsmouth in the U.K., told New Scientist. "We're not saying there weren't radiological effects at all, but we can't see effects on populations as a whole."
And one researcher not involved with the study told New Scientist, "The striking Chernobyl findings reveal that nature can flourish if people will just leave it alone," said Bill Laurance of James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. "This underscores the vital importance of having people-free parts of the planet."
But Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina who has been studying animal populations around Chernobyl for years, thinks the paper is too limited, does not provide an adequate control group and does not address the longer-term effects of radiation on animal populations.