A Habitat Suitability Analysis for the golden jackal (Canis aureus) in the Netherlands

The golden jackal (Canis aureus) is expanding its range towards Northern and Western Europe. In these parts of Europe, there is a lack of substantial knowledge about this animal’s ecology and habitat requirements. The aim of this study was to determine the potential location and numbers of territories in the Netherlands suitable for the golden jackal. This article uses a literature study to review the habitat requirements of the golden jackal. Factors such as diet, roads, habitat size, land use and potential wolf (Canis lupus) territories were taken into account to assess the quality of potential habitat for golden jackal in a Habitat Suitability Analysis (HSA). Maps of the Netherlands were created to visualise possible core areas, highly suitable, and suitable areas. The main factors limiting establishment of the golden jackal would seem to be urbanisation
and the presence of wolves. The results show that core areas in the Netherlands could support more than a hundred family groups, while highly suitable areas could potentially support an additional 150 family groups. The remaining suitable areas were found to be able to support up to around 1200 more family groups. In total, the Netherlands could support around 1450 golden jackal family groups, although the re-establishment of wolves could decrease these numbers to around 800 golden jackal family groups. This study only considered the most important parameters, which were set quite conservatively, so it is likely that our assessment of the amount of suitable habitat and potential golden jackal numbers are an underestimation.