A 71-year-old German hunter turned himself in to police on Tuesday and confessed he shot the first wolf in the Rhineland for 123 years. He said he thought the animal was a stray dog.
The man showed up at a police station in the small town of Montabaur in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany. Since the wolf is a protected species, he could face five years in prison.
The man, who comes from the neighbouring state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is the leaseholder of the forested land where the wolf’s body was found by a rambler on Saturday.
A spokesman for the local hunter’s association said the man had thought the wolf was a stray dog which might hunt the wild game on his land. “He is extremely sorry that he shot a wolf,” the man said.
The wolf is thought to be the same one that was spotted and photographed in the Westerwald area at the end of February – the first proven sighting of a wolf in the region for 123 years.
German conservationist society NABU had pressed charges against the unknown shooter. “The killing of this wolf is a malicious act,” said NABU leader Leif Müller.