Infamous Pro-Hunting Vet Dies While Shooting Birds (Photos)

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A veterinarian widely criticized for hunting large game animals fell 100 feet to his death while firing at wild birds in Italy.

According to officials, the infamous veterinarian, 55-year-old Luciano Ponzetto, plunged down a ravine while hunting birds for food with friends near the Italian city of Turin, reports The Sun.

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"We were called by the mountain rescue services who had been alerted to the incident by someone who was out with him," said a spokesman for the Italian police force, according to The Sun. "His body was recovered by helicopter and taken to a local hospital."

The spokesman said that officers believe Ponzetto slipped during the hunt and "died instantly."

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The Italian veterinarian sparked controversy after posting photos of himself with big game animals that he had killed, such as a lion and a cheetah, for which he said people started sending him death threats and other hateful messages.

"I am being criticized by people who do not know me, I have always loved my work and I have always loved animals," Ponzetto said at the time, after his photo with a dead lion brought him the wrong sort of attention in 2015. "I will carry on hunting until the law changes."

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Ponzetto said that veterinary work "is not incompatible with hunting, either morally or professionally" and stood by his actions, notes The Local. However, he still stepped down from his position as the medical director for an animal kennel over the photos and vowed to retaliate against those who spread the images, which went viral in the wake of an American dentist's controversial killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe.

"We will try and take action against these people and the media who wrote [the stories] without considering whether or not the story was in the public interest," said Ponzetto's spokesman at the time, who said that the comments on his photos were "very severe," according to The Local.

Sources: The Sun, The Local / Photo credit: Luciano Ponzetto/Facebook via The Sun, Luciano Ponzetto/Facebook via Daily Mail

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