Golden Jackal in Switzerland

At the beginning of June, a golden jackal was caught in a camera trap for several consecutive days at the forest laboratory in Hönggerberg. This is a small sensation because the camera trap images from March were the first confirmed evidence of a golden jackal in the canton of Zurich.

There are an estimated 100,000 golden jackals in Europe. This canine species from Southeast Europe is gradually spreading westward. The first evidence in Switzerland was recorded in 2011. The golden jackal is slightly larger than a fox but smaller than a wolf. It primarily feeds on small animals and is protected in Switzerland.

Please also read: Golden Jackal takes on Europe

Fox and Golden Jackal are often confused

Since 2011, the Kora Foundation, which focuses on predator ecology and wildlife management, has regularly received reports of golden jackal sightings.

All confirmed cases have involved individual golden jackals. Whenever the gender could be determined, they were found to be males. We have not yet been able to confirm any offspring in Switzerland. While there have been some unconfirmed sightings in the past, the potential for mistaking a golden jackal for a fox is quite high.

Ursula Sterrer
Wildlife expert from the KORA Foundation

Observation yes, but no approach

Over the past few years, the golden jackal has been rapidly expanding its territory from the eastern regions, including countries like Romania and the Balkans, to other parts of Europe. Its presence has already been documented in Spain, Denmark, and northern Germany.

Near the Swiss border, for example in Germany or Trentino, there are already golden jackal pairs with offspring.

In the medium term, we expect that reproductions will also occur in Switzerland.

Ursula Sterrer
Wildlife expert from the KORA Foundation

Golden jackals are not dangerous to humans. One should behave towards them as one would with other wild animals like foxes. This means that they can be observed but should not be approached or chased. Doing so would unnecessarily stress the animal. According to Kora, golden jackals usually keep their distance and flee as soon as they notice humans.

Wolves do not tolerate the intruder

Wolves, being higher up the predator hierarchy, do not tolerate the presence of golden jackals. An incident in Switzerland already occurred where a golden jackal was killed by a wolf. Ursula Sterrer explains that this could be attributed to territorial competition, where wolves perceived the golden jackal as an intruder and did not tolerate its presence.

Golden jackals and foxes primarily compete for food and often use the same resources. Foxes are frequently active in the same area as golden jackals but at different times. It can also happen that foxes are killed by golden jackals.

How can you track the golden jackal? 

All reports of golden jackals in Switzerland are collected by the Kora Foundation. These can be chance observations or camera trap images from private individuals and cantons. They are recorded in the Monitoring Center and can be publicly viewed. The foundation expects that the golden jackal will establish itself in low-lying areas in Switzerland, such as the Midlands.

Observations of golden jackal with confident proof
Observations of golden jackal with confident proof

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