By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Every year, from late September to the first weekend in October, over 6 million people from around the globe gather in Germany for Oktoberfest. The world’s largest funfair has been around since 1810, and now features everything from amusement rides to massive feasting on local delicacies. This year, scientists are warning folks to stay away from wild boars in the region, since one third of them are radioactive!
Does that mean these big piggies are glowing green or walking around on twelve mutated legs like some creepy spider hybrid? Nope! However, they’re tainted by the nuclear fallout from a 1986 explosion at Chernobyl, which is about 700 miles away in Ukraine.
On April 26, 1986, in the worst nuclear power plant accident in the history of mankind, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant blew up. The blast sent radioactive particles into the atmosphere that spread over much of Europe and what’s now western Russia, harming thousands of people. Radiation poisoning can morph our cells into malfunctioning clusters that become cancerous, so it’s definitely bad news when we get exposed to high quantities.
Even though the Chernobyl region is unsafe for human life for… oh… the next 20,000 years or so… many animals have settled in the area. Buildings have also been swallowed up by a slowly spreading forest, providing a nice little sanctuary for all kinds of furry critters. Over time, these beasts have wandered near and far, which is why hunters in the Saxony area of Germany have had to get their wild boars tested for radiation.
One scientific study revealed that 297 of 752 boars had enough radioactive material in them to be unhealthy for human consumption, with some showing levels that were dozens of times higher than the edible limit! See, wild boars tend to dig up mushrooms and truffles for their diet, and these natural growths hold onto radiation way longer than other vegetation. So, if you’re heading to Oktoberfest, stay away from the boars… and maybe think twice about eating the sausage links.
Featured image courtesy of Reiner Kraft on Flickr. Image of Chernobyl gas masks courtesy of Tim Suess on Flickr.