On instructions from Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, the authorities have long refrained from shooting stray dogs that found their way into parks and nature reserves. But last month, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority asked the minister to approve new, interim regulations allowing strays to be shot under certain circumstances.
The ministry said Erdan has yet to either approve or deny the request.
For years, INPA inspectors habitually shot strays, both to prevent them from hunting wildlife and out of concern that they might have rabies. But Erdan ordered this practice stopped. He told the INPA to set new rules for determining when shooting is necessary, explore alternative methods for containing the stray population and take steps to ensure that no pets that have run away from home end up being shot.
But since the ban on shooting took effect, there have been several incidents of stray dog packs attacking endangered wildlife, including one attack on a herd of rare fallow deer in the Jerusalem hills. Following that attack, the INPA halted its program to reintroduce the species to the wild - one of its flagship programs for returning captive species to nature.
This year has also seen a substantial rise in the incidence of rabies.
The proposed new regulations would allow authorized INPA inspectors to shoot stray dogs in the interest of containing rabies in national parks, nature reserves and any other open area where wildlife species are considered at risk. But strays would not be shot unless their presence poses an immediate, discernible risk to wildlife, and never within a kilometer of human habitation.
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