Global warming brings jackals to Western Europe
Warmer weather and decline of rivals are driving westward migration from Asia Minor
Jackals have been spotted in Western Europe, driven across the Alps by global warming and the decline of rival species.
Sightings were reported by hunters in the Haute-Savoie region of France and confirmed by mammal experts at the University of Geneva who analysed footage from automatic camera traps on the Swiss border.
About one third the size of wolves, golden jackals have been slowly migrating westward from their native Asia Minor since the early 1980s. Moving through the Balkans, they have flourished in central European countries such as Hungary and Romania, due to a combination of warmer weather and the decline of the indigenous wolf population. They have more recently settled in Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
Twenty-five years after wolves returned to France, sparking a war between environmentalists and farmers whose flocks they ravaged, the appearance of jackals “has given hill farmers in southern France another reason for fear”, says The Times.
The paper says despite the state culling over 40 wolves this autumn, more than 10,000 sheep have been reported killed by the predators this year.
Conservationists are calling for legislation to protect jackals in the same way as wolves. Jean-Francois Darmstaedter, head of the wolf protection group Ferus, said: “If we do nothing, the risk is that a golden jackal will soon be killed by a trigger-happy hunter.”