Six hikers, including a father and his nine-year-old son, were attacked by a wolf in the northern Golan Heights on Saturday. The hikers were taken to the Ziv Hospital in Safed for rabies vaccinations and treatment of bite wounds.
Dr. Amit Dolev of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel said he believed the wolf attacked because it was rabid, and that two more sightings of the animal were reported throughout the day.
According to Dolev, rangers have been searching for the wolf since the morning hours, so far to no avail. “Such an animal, which suffers from rabies, could be in its final hours, or its final days,” he said, adding that for this reason the wolf may be dead by the time authorities locate it.
Dr. Roni King, a veterinarian with the Nature and Parks Authority, said that in recent years the rabies disease has been more common among dogs than among wild animals. He added, however, that of the 15 rabies cases reported in 2014, four had been wolves – a significant rise compared to previous years.
So far in 2015 five rabies cases have been reported, involving one wolf and five household pets (dogs and cats), all in northern Israel.
According to Dr. King, since 1998 the Nature and Parks Authority has been spraying oral rabies vaccinations from the air, significantly reducing the prevalence of the disease. A year before the oral vaccination program began, he said, 100 cases of rabies were reported every year.