Charges have been brought against a person suspected to have shot dead a wolf in Switzerland last year. The person is also accused of violating hunting and weapons laws.
Prosecutors in canton Valais, in southwest Switzerland, filed charges following an investigation into the shooting of the female wolf M63, whose heavily decomposed animal carcass was discovered in March last year.
The initial investigation established the cause of death as a rifle shot that had pierced the animal's heart. Wolves can only be killed if the local authorities issue a permit. This is usually done only if a wolf kills 25 sheep or other farm animals in the space of a month.
The 30-40 wolves living in Switzerland have an uneasy relationship with people who live in the same areas. In 2016, wolves killed 389 sheep and other farm animals – most of them in canton Valais.
In August, the Swiss government announced plans to downgrade the status of wolves from “strictly protected” to “protected”, which would put the large carnivore on a par with more plentiful species found in Switzerland, like ibex and lynx.
The government’s proposed revision of Swiss hunting laws would also give the individual cantons the power to decide whether wolves or other protected species can be hunted down and killed.