TWO hunters have been convicted for the shooting of an Iberian wolf back in 2015.

The shooting took place on November 29 in the town of Tornadizos in the province of Avila, central Spain.

The Criminal Court of Avila recognised that the two hunters illegally shot and killed the protected animal with an unlicensed shotgun and without appropriate hunting licences.

During the trial, according to the statement from the courts, one of the hunters denied the charges whilst the other claimed that he had no recollection of the incident.

The hunters’ contempt, along with a strong collaboration with private animal protection groups led to the conviction which is the first of its kind in Spain.

The pair have been sentenced to three years in prison for the illegal possession of a dangerous weapon and banned from hunting for a further three.

They have also been ordered to pay compensation and to cover the legal fees.

Environmental groups Ecologistas en Accion, Anadel and Lobo Marley worked closely in conjunction with the justice system in Avila, and have praised the verdict.

It is hoped that verdict acts to bolster the argument against ‘population control’ of the magnificent species and gives the Junta de Castilla y Leon support in their fight to save the species from extinction.

The wolf in question is known as the Iberian wolf, a subspecies of the more common grey wolf that lives exclusively in the northern Iberian peninsula.

Currently in Spain, the Iberian wolf remains legal to hunt in select provinces due to their supposed impact on livestock, and are a prized ‘big game’ catch if they are shot.

However it is necessary to hold a valid permit to hunt and very few licences are given out every year by the Spanish Hunting Organisation.

To date, there are approximately 2,000 individual wolves recorded in Spain after a dramatic decline in numbers in the early 20th century.

Desperate to bring the creature back into widespread circulation in Spain, wolf protection group Lobo Marley sent a 200,000 signature petition to the European Parliament calling for widespread protection of the species.

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