Israel’s Jackal Population Surges as Landfills Prove Rich Source of Food

In recent years the parks authority has killed more than 1,000 jackals annually, to little avail.

Israel has become infested with jackals from the Galilee to the Negev because of the food and carcasses in landfills.

The problem is especially acute in the Judean Hills both north and south of Jerusalem, and between Haifa and Tel Aviv, including in Yarkon Park in north Tel Aviv. Elsewhere, farmers say packs of jackals have been preying on livestock and wildlife.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority began taking steps to combat the growing jackal population years ago, but a new report says these efforts have had little effect. The authority’s Alon Reichman, an ecologist specializing in predators, based the study on the jackal population in the north of the country.
The report, which covers the years between 2005 and 2010, includes data gathered by observation and by tracking devices fitted on jackals.

In recent years the Israel Nature and Parks Authority has killed more than 1,000 jackals annually, though the report notes that this has done little to decrease the overall population. The population in the Golan Heights has remained high relative to the size of the area despite a five-year cull.

“The ineffective population control methods have failed to affect the jackals’ survivability rates,” the Nature and Parks Authority said in its report. “Contrary to expectations, there has been no difference in survivability among jackals in the southern Golan Heights, where many control methods have been implemented, compared to the central Golan Heights, where only slight efforts have been undertaken.”

Higher numbers than in Europe, Asia and Africa

The abundance of food in the Golan appears to be attracting ever more jackals. According to the Nature and Parks Authority, there are 12 to 24 jackals per square kilometer in certain areas. In other countries in southeast Europe, Asia and Africa where the animal abounds, a typical number is one to four. According to the parks authority, landfills and cattle pens attract the highest number of jackals.

Waste-management efforts have been stepped up in recent years, especially in the Golan Heights, where the goal is to better dispose of carcasses. Still, the jackal population has remained robust there, while in the Galilee similar efforts have slightly decreased the jackal and fox population.

Jackals can spread rabies among humans. In recent years, the Nature and Parks Authority has spread oral rabies vaccinations for foxes and jackals, limiting the number of rabies cases. The animals have also caused problems for crop growers.

“Jackals cause serious damage to agriculture, and they chew through irrigation pipes and irrigation-system wires,” said Amitzur Budlow, a parks authority inspector in the Jordan Valley.

Jackals also prey on cattle in pastures and barns, Budlow said. “They’ve greatly multiplied, and every deer they eat causes lots of damage,” he said. 

Gilad Friedman