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Wildlife photographer of the year winner disqualified

20/01/2010 11:01:48

The storybook wolf has been disqualified from the competition after doubts about how wild the wolf was. Photo credit NHM/BBC

Storybook wolf just a bit too much of a story

In response to a lot of disquiet about the winning image of the 2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year, The judging panel was reconvened; they concluded that it was likely that the wolf featured in the image was an animal model that can be hired for photographic purposes and, as a result, that the image had been entered in breach of Rule 10 of the Competition.

Many independent observers thought the shot just too perfect, implying that it had been staged, and even that the wolf was not a wild animal.

No new winner to be chosen
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year will not announce a new winner. Judging throughout the competition is blind, and as the photographers are now known as well as all the details about the images it would be impossible to make an objective choice of an overall winner, so it would be unfair to all the photographers who entered the competition.

Louise Emerson, from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition office, said: "It saddens us to confirm that after a careful and thorough investigation into the image, the storybook wolf, the co-owners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine have disqualified the winning entry of the photographer José Luis Rodríguez. The judging panel looked at a range of evidence and took specialist advice from panel judges who have extensive experience of photographing wildlife including wolves. They also considered the responses to specific questions put to the photographer José Luis Rodriguez."

Animal model
The competition rules clearly state that photographs of animal models may not be entered into the competition and that images will be disqualified if they are entered in breach of Rule 10. Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition rules are available to all entrants including versions translated into several languages.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the world's most prestigious photography competition of its kind. Any transgression of the competition rules is taken very seriously and if entries are suspected of breaching the rules they are disqualified. José Luis Rodríguez's image will be removed from the exhibition and tour.

Mr Rodriguez strongly denies that the wolf in the image is a model wolf.

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