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The day of the jackal and a wolf in dogs’ clothing?

| May 11, 2018

In 1993, wolves crossed the Alps and returned to France from Italy, many decades after their extinction in France. They can be found even on the outskirts of Paris.

French shepherds are angry about EU laws stop them from killing the wolves, which are attacking their sheep, especially since they claim to have evidence showing most of these canine predators are hybrid animals arising from cross breeding between wolves and domestic dogs. Such animals they say can be legally shot and killed without the fear of prosecution.

Arguments have raged since 1993 when wolves returned to France from Italy, many decades after their extinction in France. Canis lupus lupus (Eurasian Wolf) is a protected species but hybrids carrying genes from the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) have no such protection.

The shepherds who have been collecting DNA samples of hair and faecal matter say DNA tests conducted in Germany showed that all of the 127 samples submitted and tested were from hybrid animals. However, this contrasts with research carried out at the French National Office for Hunting and Wild Fauna, which is claimed to show that 90% of the samples test positive for animals which are ‘pure wolf’. The sheep losses sustained are quite considerable with 9,788 animals recorded as killed by wolves in France in 2016. The government authorised the killing of 40 wolves in 2017 because they were found to be killing sheep. The shepherds say the quota is much too small, although environmentalists say it is too large.

Meanwhile a ‘camera trap’, activated by a motion sensor recently captured an image of a Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) in Savoy near France’s eastern border with Switzerland. The species, the size of large fox, is normally found in south-eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, but its range has started to expand north and west in recent years. Like wolves, the jackal appears to have crossed the Alps.

As the setting for the famous Frederick Forsyth novel ‘Day of the Jackal’, and subsequent films, France is now having to contend with the real thing for the first time. Alarmed livestock farmers, already campaigning for tougher measures to curb the growing wolf and wolf-dog populations are now troubled by the arrival the additional canine predator. Jackals are smaller than wolves and conservationists say they are therefore less likely to attack adult sheep, but farmers fear they will kill lambs and poultry.

This is an extract of the full article published in International Pest Control – January/February 2018 issue.

Read full article online on page 32

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Category: Public health

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