According to an article on the Independent website and another on Wildlife Extra.com, The picture that won the 2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year award has been disqualified. The picture, as you'll recall, was of a supposedly wild wolf caught by triggered flash jumping a gate. Louise Emerson, of the Competition office, said "The judging panel was reconvened and 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." Rule 10 states that photographs of animal models may not be entered and will be disqualified if they are entered in breach. [Note: This is according to the two articles referenced. See the commentary below. —MJ]
Emerson noted that the photographer "strongly denies" the wolf is an animal model. The wolf is believed to be one named Ossian, who lives at the Cañada Real Center Zoological Park near Madrid.
"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," Emerson said. "They also considered the responses to specific questions put to the photographer José Luis Rodriguez."
The image will be removed from the Competition's exhibit and tour, and the £10,000 winner's prize will not be awarded. José Luis Rodriguez will be allowed to keep a £500 category winner's check in lieu of royalties.
First place in the 2009 Competition, which is owned jointly by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, will not be awarded, because the judging can no longer be carried on blind as per the Competition's standard procedure.
(Thanks to David Goldfarb)
Featured Comment by Miserere: "When they say 'model animal,' I'm assuming they mean 'an animal that saunters around and gets its picture taken.' But it seems this rule was lost in translation at this Spanish website, where they think the photographer is being accused of using a stuffed animal.
I thought I'd look into the rules, and here is the text of the much-reported Rule 10:
Rule 10: Judges
These will be appointed by the Owners to choose the winners. The Owners’ decision on all matters relating to the competition is final, and no correspondence will be entered into concerning the competition’s judging and organisation. Should the quality of entries fall below the standard required, the Owners reserve the right not to award prizes.
Maybe some journalistic checking of the facts was in order. The rule that was allegedly broken was Rule 8 below (emphases mine).
Rule 8: Subjects and Ethics
Only pictures of wild animals and plants and landscapes are eligible subjects. Images of domestic animals (cats, dogs, farm animals, etc) and cultivated plants (species or hybrids grown in a cultivated setting) do not count as wildlife. Pictures of captive animals (animals that do not live a free and wild existence) or involving baiting using live bait are not eligible, and any other baiting must be declared. Pictures of animal models or any other animals being exploited for profit may not be entered. Images of animals being restrained in any way are only accepted in the One Earth and Wildlife Photojournalism categories when illustrating an issue. The competition asks photographers to put the welfare of animals first and to safeguard their environment and that they do not do anything to injure or distress animals or destroy the environment in their attempt to get the shot. If the Owners or the Judges suspect that a picture was taken using cruel or unethical practices, the entry will be disqualified.
The rules of the contest can be found here.
ADDENDUM by Mike: Note that the rules you found, Miserere, are for the 2010 Competition. It's possible the 2009 Rules, which I've not been able to find, could have had different ordering and numbering. The "Rule 10" citation did come from the official Competition spokesperson, as quoted in The Independent, so this explanation is at least possible.
ADDENDUM from Ed Kirkpatrick: A composite of the digital (larger) and film (inset) images.