Packs of Feral Dogs Are a Growing Threat in Israel

Rangers are banned from shooting the wild animals that attack gazelles and livestock.

A new type of wild animal is running rampant in Israel, causing enormous damage to nature, while the authorities do nothing to counter the problem, charge researchers and nature protection personnel.

They say that packs of feral dogs that have no fear of humans are attacking gazelles as well as livestock.

"You see packs of dogs, sometimes 10 at time, looking for prey," an Israel Nature and Parks Authority ranger, who asked that his name not be used, said. "The ones that pay the price are the gazelles. You can see these packs embark on real chases after the gazelles," he added.

Amitzur Buldo, a recently-retired parks authority ranger, still takes to the field where he says he says he sees for himself and hears from friends about the actions of the dogs. "This is a dog that lives in the wild, preys in the wild and reproduces in the wild." Buldo says some of these dogs also mate with wolves. Buldo, who was a ranger for 30 years, says he is tired of hearing them referred to as "stray dogs" when they are in fact "wild dogs."

There is no record of how many such dogs there are, he says, but the damage they cause is enormous because, unlike wolves, they are not afraid of humans. That is why they strike herds of domesticated animals, and not only wild ones, he explains.

"They work like wolves, in a pack. If they spot a young gazelle, it's done for," Buldo says.

Gazelles, which already have many other natural enemies, don't need an additional one he says, noting that there are two kinds of gazelles that are found only in Israel. Buldo believes that feral dogs are also responsible for the decline in the roe deer population on the Menashe Plateau south of Mount Carmel on Mount Horshan in the Carmel foothills.

Yaron Kaminsky