Slovenia Revealed
Slovenia is Europe’s most forested country outside of Scandinavia and has a variety of wildlife to match. One of the most interesting and successful species in the country is the jackal. In fact, jackals have become so prevalent that they have found themselves in the midst of a controversy.
Slovenia is Europe’s most forested country outside of Scandinavia and has a variety of wildlife to match. One of the most interesting and successful species in the country is the jackal. In fact, jackals have become so prevalent that they have found themselves in the midst of a controversy. Foto: Janez Tarman

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A Mysterious Animal of Slovenia’s Woods

Slovenia Revealed
25. January 2018 ob 07:51
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

Slovenia is Europe’s most forested country outside of Scandinavia and has a variety of wildlife to match. One of the most interesting and successful species in the country is the jackal. In fact, jackals have become so prevalent that they have found themselves in the midst of a controversy.

Jackals, omnivorous animals resembling the coyote, are native to Europe, but were once limited to parts of the Mediterranean Coast and especially the Black Sea. By the 1950s, however, they began to appear in Slovenia. One reason for their expanded habitat was the falling number of wolves, which are the jackals’ primary competitors.

These days, there are permanent populations of jackals in the Ljubljana Moors, just south of the capital, and in the Soča River Valley of northwestern Slovenia, but the animals can be seen around the country, from the Karst Plateau in the west to the Prekmurje region in the east. A major reason for their success has been the fact that they don’t need nearly as much space as wolves, and because they attack neither people nor livestock, they haven’t been threatened by farmers.

Jackals feed mostly in carrion, but they occasionally attack deer as well. Some hunters have begun to blame the declining number of deer on the increasing population of jackals. While the link remains controversial, hunters’ associations have called for a significant number of jackals to be killed off. In response to the demand, the authorities have already removed the designation of the jackal as a protected species. This has upset conservationists, who argue that the jackals pose no threat and that they could serve as a case study for changing animal habitats in the age of rapid climate change.

Meanwhile, jackals are increasingly showing up as mysterious night-time visitors to backyards and ending up as roadkill. For many Slovenians, this is their only contact with one of the country’s least-known animal species.

Jaka Bartolj
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