Experts warn of the 'fastest expansion ever witnessed' as jackals prepare to invade the UK.
Scientists say bloodthirsty jackals are on their way to Britain in one of the largest land invasions by an animal in human history.
The howling scavengers, which can travel nine miles in a night to hunt prey and tackle creatures weighing five times their body weight, are making their way across Europe towards the United Kingdom, where they could cause a slew of issues, including howling in unison at least three times a day - morning, noon, and night - and even the sound of church bells and boats can set them off at any time.
Second, they are cunning and aggressive hunters who enjoy devouring chickens, turkeys, lambs, sheep, goats, deer, pheasants, and nearly any other mammal up to the size of a young water buffalo.
They also eat melons and nuts, as well as grapes, coffee, maize, and sugarcane, which they destroy.
Golden jackals from India have begun attacking humans, which is alarming.
There were no attacks reported prior to 1997, but there have been at least 220 since then, largely as a result of locals attempting to drive them out of towns and villages.
So far, none of them has proven fatal.
They're also infested with diseases and up to 16 parasitic species, the majority of which are dangerous to humans.
Rabies, the tropical disease leishmaniasis (corr), which causes skin sores and is fatal in 95 percent of cases if left untreated, and a variety of ticks never before seen in Western Europe are among them.
Because wolves are unpopular, the population has spread from its traditional habitats in southern Asia, the Middle East, and parts of the Balkans, according to Nathan Ranc (corr), an ecologist and golden jackal expert from the University of California Santa Cruz.
Due to a long-standing fear of wolves, hunters turned their attention away from them, allowing golden jackals to thrive.
They have now been discovered in the Tuscany region of Italy.
This week, a photo trap in a nature reserve near Prato, near Florence, captured one on film.
Others have been seen in France, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, among other places.
"It's one of the largest mammalian range expansions we've ever seen anywhere on the planet," Mr Ranc said.
"It's a continent-wide trend; we just got the first report this week that golden jackals are reproducing in Germany, and jackals are showing up in unexpected places."
Jackals, like coyotes in the United States, have thrived at the expense of wolves, according to the ecologist.
"We believe there is a link," he said.
"This is what happens when a dominant carnivore's population declines."
The persecution of wolves, we believe, was a catalyst.
'Climate change,' he speculated, could be to blame for their migration.
"We know jackals dislike deep snow," he explained.
"Climate change could be helping them out."
The jackals are moving on their own.
'Jackals have also benefited from Eastern European countries joining the EU, which required them to reduce their use of poison baits,' said fellow ecologist Dr John Linnell of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.
"Because jackals are scavengers, a reduction in poison use would benefit them," he said.
The chairman of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, Professor Luigi Boitani of Rome University, insisted that humans have little to fear from the animals.
"A jackal may take the occasional chicken or domestic rabbit, and possibly a small lamb, but it is not an animal that should worry farmers," he said.
"It's an incredible animal with the ability to disperse widely."
'It was a "stroke of luck" that one was caught on camera in Italy, according to Marco Morelli, director of environmental organization Fondazione Parsec (corr).
"We have been fortunate enough to witness an extraordinary phenomenon," he added.