“There is reason to believe, that he knew what he was shooting at,'' said a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture in Magdeburg.
The dead animal was a male wolf, which lived with a female and their young cubs at the military training facility in Altengrabow.
Should the investigation confirm that the hunter deliberately shot the wolf, the case would be handled according to federal nature conservation laws. He could face up to a five years in prison and a monetary fine of up to €50,000.
If it's proven it was a negligent shooting, the hunter could still be imprisoned for up to six months.
The state's minister for the environment, Petra Wernicke, slammed the hunter for the shooting. “Dealing with highly protected species is part of a hunter's basic knowledge. To ignore this is inexcusable,” she said.
The wolf's four to six-week-old cubs were with the mother in the den at the time of the slaying. But with the lack of the male wolf as the food provider, the situation is “highly fatal,” said NABU-Wolf expert Markus Bathen. It remains to be seen, whether the female wolf can raise the cubs on her own.
The approximately 50 free-roaming wolves in Germany are tightly guarded according to the country's conservation laws.
But many hunters don't want the wolves around after they returned to Germany from Poland in recent years. In early 2009, a female wolf was shot in Sachsen and in December 2007 another in Niedersachsen.