Furious animal rights campaigners have accused an Austrian farmer of lying after he shot dead a wolf that he claimed he thought was a fox.
Farmer Niklas Koenig, 53, told police he had heard a commotion coming from his barn where he kept his sheep, and when he ran downstairs and grabbed his gun he saw what he thought was a fox and had opened fire.
It was only when the animal was killed and Koenig saw it up close he realised it was actually a wolf that had been attacking his animals in the district of Oberes Drautal in Carinthia, a state in southern Austria.
But animal rights campaigners alleged that the farmer could not possibly have mistaken the fox, and also claimed to have spoken to locals who said the farmer had trapped the wolf in a cage before shooting it later. They also said the fact that the wolf’s stomach was empty was an indication that it could not have been attacking sheep.
However an independent police investigation found it was not possible to prove the farmer had not thought it was a fox and the Austrian Public Prosecutor’s Office said that as a result the case had been dropped.
Wolves are being increasingly spotted in the region after efforts to introduce them back to Europe but are viewed by some – particularly farmers – as a ‘problem animal’, along with the fifteen bears and several lynxes that have also recently returned to the area.