Legal implications of range expansions in a terrestrial carnivore: the case of the golden jackal (Canis aureus) in Europe
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Original versionBiodiversity and Conservation 2015, 24(10):2593-2610 10.1007/s10531-015-0948-y
Due to global environmental changes, species are appearing more frequently in places where they have not previously occurred, and this trend is expected to continue. Such range expansions can create considerable challenges and confusion for management and policy, especially for species associated with conflicts and whose management is influenced by international legal frameworks. The golden jackal (Canis aureus) in Europe represents a good case study to address the questions related to management of naturally expanding species. We review the recent expansion of the golden jackal across the continent, and address several ensuing policy and legal questions that also have clear implications for other expanding species. To that end, we analyze the EU Habitats Directive and several other international legal instruments including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Bern Convention on European Wildlife. We also review the status of the golden jackal under national legislation and highlight some of the management confusion due to recent range expansion and inadequate legal interpretation. Specific questions we address include in which cases an expanding species is to be considered an (invasive) alien species in countries where it did not formerly occur; what countries’ conservation obligations are with respect to expanding species; what difference it makes for those obligations whether or not a species historically occurred in a country; what scope exists for lethal control of its populations; what the prospects are for transboundary cooperation at the population level; and what responses are required when colonizing species hybridise with other wildlife or domestic animals.