Five people were lightly wounded on Saturday when a wolf suspected of carrying rabies attacked three groups of hikers in separate incidents in northern Israel.
The five who were bitten by the canine were given rabies shots, as were another two people as a precautionary measure, according to Ynet.
The she-wolf first attacked a group of hikers in the Golan Heights. Although bystanders were eventually successful in chasing the wolf away with rocks, three individuals were bitten, including a father and his nine-year-old son.
The victims were transferred to the nearby Ziv Medical Center and were listed in good condition.
“The father is suffering from cuts and scratches on his hands and arms,” said Majid Abu Janev, a nurse who treated the victims.
Three more people later arrived at the medical center; a man suffering from scratches and a fractured ankle he sustained while trying to escape the wolf and a woman suffering from a bite and deep scratches. The woman’s husband was also given a rabies vaccine after coming into contact with her open wounds.
“We thoroughly washed, disinfected and bandaged the wounds and administered rabies vaccines,” Janev said.
Later, a family from Kibbutz Neot Mordechai in the Upper Galilee was attacked by the same wolf near the Nimrod Fortress, a 13th century castle on the southern slopes of Mount Hermon.
Said one of the wolf’s victims, Amir Menkes, 21: “Our family went for a walk near the area of the Hermon by the Nimrod Fortress. We went down from the parking lot towards a spring. We originally did not notice that a wolf emerged from a thicket, but she ran at us once we saw her. We started to run away but she chased us and bit me in the thigh. She also went after my brother, but then somehow got lost,” Menkes said, adding that the family managed to film the wolf while driving to the hospital.
Park rangers launched an extensive search for the wolf. Authorities believe the wolf is rabid, as healthy wolves do not normally approach humans, particularly when they are in groups.
Rangers said they have also considered the idea that the female wolf may have had young pups by her and may have felt threatened by the presence of others.
This marks the third reported incident of a wolf attack in Israel in the past year. Last December, a group of children in the city of Katzrin in the Golan Heights were attacked, and in March a wolf attacked a passerby in the northern city of Tiberias and was later shot after being tracked down to nearby Kibbutz Ginosar.
The Agriculture Ministry has recorded five incidences of rabies in animals throughout the country this year, including one wolf. Last year, the ministry said its goal was to rid the country of rabies with mandatory vaccinations for all dogs over the age of three months and recommended vaccinations for cats and ferrets.
In addition, efforts are being taken to track down stray animals and administer oral vaccinations, with specific emphasis on jackals and foxes.
According to the Agriculture Ministry, most incidents of rabies are found in the north, as the borders of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan are popular transit points for animals carrying the disease.
At least 50,000 people die from rabies worldwide on an annual basis, with half of the victims being children under the age of 15, according to a Ynet report.