Reward offered after brutal wolf killing in Germany

It's the canine crime of the century: A wolf was killed by gunshot, tied to a concrete weight and dumped in a lake. Killing a wolf is a crime, and German wildlife groups are appealing for help to find the murderer.

A €7,000 ($8,100) reward has been offered for information that leads to the arrest of a wolf killer, the German Organization for the Protection of Wolves announced on Wednesday.

Nature and Environment | 19.01.2017

The reward is tied to the killing of a 1-year-old wolf in Saxony, whose body had been found on June 10 floating in a lake near the city of Bautzen.

An examination of the wolf's corpse by a Berlin wildlife research institute found that the young female had been fatally shot in the chest and then had a rope tied around her stomach and lashed to a concrete weight.

Read more: Wolf cub hybrids face the chopping block in Germany

Nature and Environment | 27.10.2017

"This once again proves that a wolf is not a beast; man is," said Brigitte Sommer, the chairwoman of the German Organization for the Protection of Wolves.

The reward was issued by Sommer's organization along with the district of Bautzen and a Facebook group called, "Wolves: Yes, Please."

"Seven thousand euros should help loosen the tongues of anyone who knows anything," Sommer added.

Wolf numbers grow in Germany

From persecuted to protected

Since the 15th century, wolves have been systematically persecuted, particularly in western and central Europe. By the 19th century, human hunters had almost wiped the species out completely. Now the animals are strictly protected, and it is illegal to catch or kill them.

Wolf numbers grow in Germany

Gradual comeback

According to new data from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), there are currently 60 packs of wolves living across Germany — 13 more than in 2016. Researchers also recorded 13 wolf couples and three sedentary single wolves, amounting to 150-160 adult animals in total.

Wolf numbers grow in Germany

Enemy on the roads

Road traffic poses the biggest threat to wolves: 140 of the around 200 dead wolves since 2000 were killed in vehicle accidents.

Wolf numbers grow in Germany

Hunted down

In addition to road traffic, Germany's wolf population has also been targeted by illegal killings. According to official figures, 26 wolves have been shot dead in recent years, including five over the past 12 months alone.

Wolf numbers grow in Germany

Early deaths

Wolves can live up to 13 years in the wild. However, only about half of all wolf pups actually survive beyond their first year. Canine distemper or mange mite infections can be fatal to weak immune systems — especially in cases where the puppies are malnourished. Pups also have a slim chance of survival if their parents are killed.

Wolf numbers grow in Germany

A problem for farmers

While wolves aren't known for attacking people, they have been blamed for killing sheep. Farmers have tried to protect their land with electric fences or livestock dogs. If their animals are killed, German farmers are eligible for compensation. Some livestock owners and hunters want permission to shoot wolves to protect their animals, but conservation authorities say this is simply not an option.

Wolf numbers grow in Germany

The friendly wolf?

Tatjana Schneider (pictured) knows wolves well. She manages the Werner Freund Wolf Park in Germany's western Saarland region, where she conducts behavioral research. Our pet dogs are domesticated versions of the wolf, and in some cases it's hard to tell them apart. One key difference, though, is that a wolf's muzzle is usually slightly longer than that of a domestic dog.

Wolves are protected by EU and German law, and killing them is a crime. Bautzen's district administrator declared the killing a crime, and Saxony's State Criminal Police Office is investigating.

According to German law, punishment for killing a wild wolf includes a monetary fine in the thousands of euros or, in certain cases, up to five years in prison.

According to the Wolves in Saxony wildlife group, eight illegal wolf deaths have been identified in the state since 2009.

Related Subjects

The wolf population in Germany has been the subject of national debate, with politicians and interest groups split over how to best manage their increasing numbers.

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Focus on Europe | 18.01.2018

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