Vormela peregusna (Guldenstaedt 1770) Marbled Polecat
Hebrew name: סמור, samur
Global Threat: NE – Not Evaluated
Regional Threat: VU (A1ac) – Vulnerable
Distribution area: Populates the Mediterranean region spreading into desert transition areas. The small number of records from the 1990s testifies to a population decline, possibly due to competitive exclusion by the beech marten that has expanded its distribution in Israel.
Historic distribution: Schmitz reported marbled polecats from Sha’ar HaGay, Jerusalem, Bir Zeit, Mar Saba and Jericho in the early 20th century (Ilani 1979). During the 1970s there were reports from the Sede Boqer and Mashabe Sade area (Ilani 1979). Marbled polecats probably expanded into the desert with the spread of irrigated agriculture to these areas.
Typical Habitat: The Mediterranean region, principally batha, garigue and open Mediterraniean woodland. The species extended into arid desert transition areas (to the 100 mm annual precipitation isohyet) and to agricultural areas in the desert. Does not inhabit high, cold mountains (e.g. Mt. Hermon).
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Pesticides and rodenticides that cause secondary poisoning in marbled polecats.
3. Possible competitive exclusion by beech martens, whose populations are growing and expanding.
Population Size: There is no detailed estimate of the population size in Israel. Ilani (1979) estimated the Israeli population in the 1970s at 1000 or more. The home range of each individual in Europe is about 0.5 km2, and male and female territories overlap (Macdonald & Barret 1993).
Fluctuations in Population Size: The small number of records during the 1990s (Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority database and SPNI Israel Mammal Information Center data) suggests the population density and distribution area is decreasing.
Isolation between Subpopulations: Unknown.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Distribution survey using roadkills as an index, since it is very difficult to trap marbled polecats or observe them in nature (Ben-David 1988).
2. Preventing rodenticide use.