Ten years on from Estonia's day of the jackal, species has spread further
2023 marks a decade since the first spotting of a jackal in the wild in Estonia, while since then, the animals have been found close to the North coast and on the shores of Peipsi järv, as well as in western Estonia where they were initially seen.
The species, the golden jackal, also known as the common jackal (Canis aureus), pictured, is native to more southerly regions of Eurasia, but has spread as far north as Estonia, with popular social media rumor having it that they are to be found near human settlement sometimes.
The species can be legally hunted, and is not subject to an annual cull quota in the way that, for instance, bears are.
ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday that while the first jackal was spotted in Estonia in 2013, this likely means the first litter had already been at large in the wild for a year or two prior to that, while the number of litters 10 years on may be as many as 25.
Peep Männil, chief specialist of the wildlife department of the Environment Agency (Keskonnaagentuuri) told AK that jackals: "Have spread along the West coast, and also on the islands of Vormsi, Saaremaa and Muhu."
"It is not yet known if they have reached Hiiumaa; none have yet been spotted. They have also been seen on the North coast, through there are no known litters there. A small population has been present for several years now near Piirissaare, on Peipsi järv," he added.
Occasional reports have surfaced on social media that jackals have been spotted in or near human settlements, including at Lihula, where a family whose goat was killed by a predator suspect a jackal may have been the culprit.
Männil said that while he has no concrete information on the Lihula incident, a jackal could not be ruled out in cases where, for example, a sick or injured deer was killed – though this might just as likely have been the work of a stray dog, he added.
Maret Põld, from Lihula, told AK that: "We have a two-floor dwelling house behind the main house, where people say that jackals have been heard to howl and make a noise from time to time. The nurse who lives across the road said she saw a jackal run across the road, into the garden of the former pharmacy."
Toomas Laos of the local huntsmen's society said that within their area, livestock owners have not suffered any jackal damage, mainly because not many owners keep sheep, he said. More jackals may be found in nearby Matsalu Bay and the hunting areas there, he added.
"We don't have a lot of them. They occasionally pass through. We've hunted a total of five here in the last three or four years, plus one was hit by a car," Laos told AK.
Nineteen jackals were hunted in Estonia between March last year and the present, the agency says, though the hunting season, which lasts from autumn to the end of February, is still ongoing.
In the previous year, 60 individual jackals were hunted in Estonia.
The state does not compensate livestock owners and others for losses incurred by jackals, since in its case there is no limit to the volume or area in which they can be culled.
This may be why there were only a few incidents of jackal carnage reported last year, AK said.
The golden jackal is a wolf-like canid native to Southeast Europe and vast swathes of Asia. It often spreads into areas where wolves are thinner on the ground, and is generally not a danger to humans.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera