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Wolf Down

An elderly German hunter who refused to pay a fine for shooting dead the first wolf to be seen in the Rhineland area of Germany for 123 years has ended up with a bigger fine - and court costs.

Lawyer's for Manfred Weiss, 72, claim the animal was not a real wolf despite the fact that DNA testing had confirmed it was. Weiss said it was clearly a German shepherd dog and the experts had made a mistake.

Weiss, who rents the Westerwald forest for hunting, said he believed the animal had been a stray dog. He turned himself in after animal rights groups offered a 4,000 GBP reward to help track down the identity of the killer.

Because the wolf had been shot with a high-calibre rifle police were fairly certain it was a local hunter who would have had to be licensed to have such weapon legally that was to blame.

The wolf was found dead by walkers. After the reward was offered the hunter showed up at a police station in the small town of Montabaur in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany and admitted he had shot the animal.

But when he was fined 1,500 GBP he refused to pay - and has now been taken to court where he ended up having to pay 2,900 GBP - based on what the court estimated he would have earned in 70 days

German conservationist society NABU spokesman Olaf Strub said: "This was a very strongly protected animal."

He escaped jail after the court heard he had not broken Federal Conservation Act, because having never personally come across a wolf in the forest, he could not have known what it was.

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