Israel Becoming a Paradise for Jackals

Jackals proliferate due to improperly discarded chicken carcasses.

Large parts of Israel are becoming a jackal paradise, according to recent research by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. This increase in the jackal population threatens other wild animals and spreads diseases like rabies.

Jackals are reproducing at a dizzying rate in open areas where they have a ready food supply in the form of discarded animal carcasses, the study found. In the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council alone, there are some 160 sites where discarded chicken carcasses attract the animals, which are both scavengers and predators.

Archive: Gilad Feldman

The INPA and ecologist Gilad Friedman examined 57 poultry runs for laying hens in the Mateh Yehuda region and found improperly discarded chicken carcasses in two thirds. They suspect the same is true of many others.

In runs where chickens are raised for meat, about 40 percent of carcasses may be improperly discarded, the study said. Park rangers have observed chicken farmers tossing dead chickens over their fences or into refuse pits already filled to overflowing.

INPA data shows an almost perfect correlation between the location of the carcass dumps and the presence of jackals.

The Mateh Yehuda area also has many other refuse sites that are food sources for jackals, and the study estimates that every community in the area supports about 50 jackals.

The Golan Heights and the Galilee also have an overabundance of jackals, which are preying on wild animals like gazelles and threatening their existence. Further damage to wildlife results when farmers set out poison for the jackals, as it is often eaten by other animals instead.

From 2006 to 2009, the INPA culled the jackal population in the Golan Heights, shooting about 1,000 a year. But authority officials say at least 50 percent more need to be culled in order to significantly reduce the jackal population, and that target is difficult to achieve.

The authority says the only way to properly counter the overabundance of jackals is to dispose of animal carcasses properly, by putting them into sealed sites. The Mateh Yehuda Regional Council is now preparing a plan to that end.

"Many of the poultry runs already have facilities for collecting carcasses," said Moshe Suissa, who is coordinating the plan for the regional council. He added that if the plan is approved and properly funded, proper disposal of the carcasses can be significantly increased within a few months.