There has been an ongoing scientific debate about the extent that flora and fauna of the zone were affected by the radioactive contamination that followed the accident. No scientifically documented cases of mutant deformity in animals of the zone were reported other than partial albinism in swallows and insect mutations. There have been individual eyewitness reports of other animal mutations but no comprehensive statistical analysis has been completed to date. The cloud of heavily polluted dust left the Red Forest (Rudyi Lis)—a strand of highly-irradiated pine wood near the plant which was subsequently bulldozed.
There have been reports that wildlife has flourished due to significant reduction of human impact. For this reason, the zone is considered by some as a classic example of an involuntary park. Populations of traditional Polesian animals (like wolves, wild boar and Roe Deer), red deer, moose, and beaver have multiplied enormously and begun expanding outside the zone. The area also houses herds of European wisent and Przewalski’s Horses released there after the accident. Even extremely rare lynx have appeared, and there are reports of tracks from brown bears, an animal not seen in the area for several centuries. Special game warden units are organized to protect and control them.