There have been ten wolf attacks involving children in the last four months in Israel. All of the attacks have occurred in Judean Desert, where the wolves have targeted the campers. Israeli Nature and Parks Authority say people feeding wolves is the source of the problem.
The Arabian wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf. It is a lot smaller then it’s North American Cousin. They average 26 inches at shoulder height and weighs an average of 40 pounds. Making them
about the size of a coyote.
Haaretz.com relayed the following story.
In May, the Ben David family from Ramat Hasharon went camping near Masada in the Judean Desert.
“We were a lot of people, maybe 10 tents,” says Shilhav Ben David. She and her two small children, ages a year and a half and three, were sitting in their tent. “Suddenly an animal that looked like a dog entered, but I knew that didn’t make sense. I screamed and kicked it but it didn’t really move. Because of my screams other people came and drove it away,” she said.
The animal was a wolf. Two hours later it returned when her daughter was “five steps from the tent.” She heard her screaming and saw her on the ground with the wolf on top of her. “I saw him move his nose over her.”
“I ran and grabbed her and saw blood and holes from fangs in her lower back. It wasn’t that he tried to attack her, he really tried to grab her and take her away. He tried to prey [on her]. He went through all the children and saw she was the smallest,” said Ben David.
This is just one of nine other attacks that have occurred in the region. Dr. Haim Berger, an expert in wolf behavior, has found that the wolves are not attacking in order to bite, threaten or play, but to prey on the children as food.
Berger thinks the wolves in the Judean Desert have undergone a long process of dangerous acclimatization to human society. They have learned that not only is there no need to be afraid of people, but people can also be a source of food, similar to ibex fawns or hyraxes. A wolf that cannot find food for a few days suddenly sees humans cooking on a fire and the smell fills the whole area. Fifty to 100 years ago wolves would never have approached the Bedouin in the desert but today the situation is different, says Berger.
Berger says it is possible to take a number of immediate steps to reduce the risk of wolf attacks, including putting up warning signs in all campgrounds and entrances to nature reserves. Also, a ranger should always be on duty with nonlethal means to scare off the wolves. Hikers should be taught how to store food and garbage in campgrounds and make it completely clear that feeding wild animals is forbidden.
All such incidents should be documented – and the wolves should be captured and fitted with transmitters for tracking, says Berger.
Gild Gabay, director of the authority’s Southern District, confirms there were 10 attacks, but rejects the claim that the authority is ignoring the danger. About 20 wolves live in the region, and only a few have taken part in the wolf attacks, estimates Gabay. He says rangers trapped the wolf from the May attacks, and the attacks ended – for a time. Last week a new wave of attacks began.