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Lion hunting veterinarian dies after falling 100ft into ravine on a bird shoot

The Independent logo The Independent 16/12/2016 Gabriel Samuels

Lion hunting veterinarian dies after falling 100ft into ravine on a bird shoot © Instagram/Luciano Ponzetto Lion hunting veterinarian dies after falling 100ft into ravine on a bird shoot An Italian vet who courted controversy by sharing photos of animals he hunted on social media, has died after falling into a ravine while shooting wild birds.

Luciano Ponzetto received death threats last year after he posed in pictures next to his trophy kills of lions and other wild animals which he posted online.

He had pledged to take legal action against those who had threatened violence against him and argued that being a vet was “not incompatible with hunting, either morally or professionally”.

The vet died after he slipped on a sheet of ice and fell 100ft down a ravine at Colle delle Oche near Turin during a wild bird hunt, The Sun reported.

"We were called by the mountain rescue services who had been alerted to the incident by someone who was out with him," an Italian police spokesperson told the newspaper.

"His body was recovered by helicopter and taken to a local hospital. It looks like he slipped and fell when he was out hunting. He died instantly and there was nothing that could be done."

Mr Ponzetto posed in photographs with dead leopards, lions, rams and boars on the Instagram picture sharing site. But the vet repeatedly defended his right to hunt against a sustained social media backlash. He mainly hunted in Tanzania, and had recently returned from an expedition in Canada.

The public controversy forced Mr Ponzetto to step down as medical director of a local kennel business while he criticised the “severity” of the reaction against him.

Italy’s Veterinarians' Guild defended Mr Ponzetto at the time, saying in a statement: “Hunting is a hobby regulated by the law, which does not allow us to take measures against him."

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