Rare Wild Denmark Wolf Illegally Poached on Camera

A family of European wolves relax in their enclosure at the Wolfcenter wolf park on June 14, 2017 in Dorverden, Germany. The European wolf, known by its scientific name of Canis lupus lupus, disappeared in Germany in the 19th century but has in recent years been making a steady comeback. In Denmark, wolves are loved by some and hated by others. Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images

One of the first wolves to roam free in Denmark has been shot dead, and naturalists caught the shocking attack on camera.

From 1813 to 2012, there were apparently no wolves in Denmark. Then, a handful of wolves came from neighboring areas and formed a small pack with one female and the potential to breed, re-establishing the old ecosystem.

However, one of the rare wolves is now dead. In a video that naturalists captured, the wolf is seen trotting through a field past a blurred parked car. The sound of a gun cracks and the animal falls over; it's likely that the shot came from the car.

The Denmark wolves are legally protected and police apprehended a 66-year-old man from the car for violating hunting legislation. They have confiscated his car and guns from his house to search for evidence.

The video has sparked outrage in Denmark, according to The Guardian. Since wolves have not had a steady population in the area for 200 years, their return is seen as a conservation success. With so few wolves, one death can have dire consequences on their potential to re-establish their numbers.

As in the U.S., wolves in Denmark are the subject of passionate debate. Some people love them because they are charismatic, majestic animals, and for their important role in maintaining a stable ecosystem. Others hate wolves because they prey on animals like deer and sheep, which hunters and farmers want to kill for themselves. They can also be dangerous to pets and people if desperate or overly agitated.

However, the government tries to keep farmers from having conflicts with wolves by funding wolf-proof fencing and compensating them for any animals lost to wolf attacks. There are a wide variety of tactics farmers can implement to reduce predator conflicts without killing the animals.