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Scientists have confirmed the presence of the golden jackal in Poland

20.07.2015 Nature, Recommended

Source: Mammal Research Institute PAS in Białowieża

The presence of the golden jackal in Poland has been confirmed in genetic research by researchers from the Mammal Research Institute PAS in Białowieża (Podlasie) - told PAP last Wednesday the institute director, Dr. Rafał Kowalczyk. Until now there have been no recorded sightings of jackals in Poland.

Dead animal was found in mid-April by the road between the villages Ognica and Krajnik Dolny in Western Pomerania, near the border with Germany. Other jackals have also been seen in Polesie and in the Biebrza Valley in eastern Poland.

 

Director of the Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS) noted that the golden jackal was not recorded in Poland before. The presence of this animal has been documented in Germany (in southern Brandenburg), in Belarus and Ukraine. In January, 2015, two jackals were shot in the Czech Republic just a few kilometres from the Polish border, and in February a similar situation took place in Lithuania.

 

"In recent weeks, almost at the same time there have been several sightings of the predator, not in the south as expected, but in the western and eastern Poland (...) In recent years there has been an expansion of the golden jackal in Europe. This species was almost eradicated in Europe in the 1960s, and now, thanks to the protection, its population gradually increases and inhabits further areas" - Kowalczyk told PAP.

 

Jackal from Western Pomerania, which was found by a German citizen, was first transferred to the Regional Directorate of Environmental Protection in Szczecin, and from there for studies to the Mammal Research Institute PAS. Jackals from Polesie and Biebrza have been documented in photographs. Scientists have no doubt that it is a jackal, as confirmed in research and genetic identification. They emphasize that jackal’s presence in Poland is an expansion of yet another foreign predator.

 

The jackal found dead in Western Pomerania most likely was hit by a car, as indicated by injuries on the body of the animal. "Studies have shown that the animal was a one year old weighing 10.6 kg and with a body length of 85 cm. Subcutaneous hematoma and damage to the skull of the animal indicated a collision with a vehicle. Coloration and body size, relatively short tail and fused tips of the middle toes of the front paws allowed to determine the test subject belonged to the species golden jackal - Canis aureus. The age and sex of the animal suggest that it could have been a migrant animal" - said Kowalczyk.

 

The first picture of a jackal on the Biebrza was taken on 1 May in the vicinity of the village Gugny. The second, in June near the village Piszczac in Lublin province. Jackal has also been seen in the area of Rewal in Western Pomerania. "These observations indicate the presence, and perhaps even settlement of jackals in Poland and their expansion, probably from several directions. It is a natural expansion and it has a different character than the invasion of raccoon or mink that have been introduced to the environment by man" - said Kowalczyk.

 

Scientists do not know what could be the consequences of the appearance of jackals. These animals are like open areas, river valleys. They feed on rodents, rabbits, carrion. They can compete for this food with fox and raccoon. "It is quite a large predator, so it can potentially affect the population of rabbit or deer by killing the young" - said Kowalczyk. Therefore, scientists believe that the legal status of jackal in Poland should be urgently determined. They remind that the EU Habitats Directive defines jackal as a species, which can be sourced from the wild and managed.

 

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland

 

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Tags: ecology , jackal , species
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