The Golan wolves: The dynamics, behavioral ecology, and management of an endangered pest

Alon Reichmann, David Saltz

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    14 Scopus citations


    Golan wolves are smaller relative to most other populations, but are larger than the wolves found in the south of Israel. Pups are born from mid-February through March. Golan wolves produce an average of 5 pups per litter. In some cases the pups are moved from the den when they are two to three months old, while in other cases they stay in the den until they are five or six months old. In spite of the low survival rate (61%), the reproductive rate is high, and it appears that the population of the Golan wolves has increased in recent years. Population data show that the Golan area is saturated or almost saturated with wolf packs. The wolf population in the Golan is estimated at 80-100 adult wolves. The emigration rate of the Golan wolf to neighboring areas is low (9%) and dispersal distances are relatively short (15.6 km on average). The link between the Golan population and other populations outside the Golan reduces the sensitivity of the population to active management. Their diet consists mainly of gazelles, young wild boars, carrion, and livestock. In the southern part of the Golan, more than 50% of the wolves' diet is domestic animals (especially chicken carcasses). A wolf's home range in the Golan averages 46 square kilometers and is small compared to wolves in other areas. The overlap with neighboring home ranges is low. Sometimes home ranges change over the years. A seasonal pattern could not be found. Golan wolves are mainly nocturnal and are rarely active more than two or three hours after sunrise. On winter nights there are two activity peaks, while during summer there is only one peak, in the early hours of the night. In the summer there is no wolf activity during the middle of the day, while in the winter there is some. Resting sites during the day are not scattered randomly in the area, but concentrated in a small part of the home range. Even in winter, when the pack is not caring for pups, after foraging the wolves return to where they started from in 28% of cases. On average, the wolves traverse 9.1 km while foraging. Packs consist of 2-7 individuals. The foraging group size of Golan wolves changes by season. It is more common for wolves to forage alone in summer than in other seasons. In winter, foraging groups are larger. In September, pups start joining the pack on its foraging journeys. At ten months of age, the pups start to forage alone. When they are one year old, some pups leave the pack and roam by themselves. Other pups stay with the pack and help in caring for the next generation. Examination of the data in a demographic model shows that the wolf population in the Golan can sustain itself under heavy culling. However, because of the difficulty in long-term monitoring, careful consideration is needed in the desired management plan. To deter wolf predation, we recommend combining protection methods with the killing of wolves that learn how to overcome these protection procedures. In addition, we advise dividing the Golan into three management areas. Stressing the wolf population should be avoided in one of these areas, while in the other two it should be permissible at different levels, according to livestock predation rates and to other management needs of the area.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)87-133
    Number of pages47
    JournalIsrael Journal of Zoology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Dec 2005

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Animal Science and Zoology


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