“The jury believes that there are likely to have been images manipulated even before 2011, meaning that he can not retain the title,” the agency explained in a statement on Monday.
The prize money awarded in connection with the annual prize will however not be recalled as the regulations covering the award do not allow for it. The agency has furthermore advised that the regulations will be reviewed.
The controversy arose when wildlife care consultant and blogger for the Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management (Svenska Jägareförbundet), Gunnar Glöersen, received a call from a journalist asking him to examine a suspicious looking picture of a lynx.
“Doesn’t this lynx in the July greenery have a winter fur? How about the lynx that’s reflected in the pool, is it walking in the air or on land, and can you really see the paws at that angle?”, Glöersen wrote in a blog post dated August 26th.
Glöersen also questioned the authenticity of the picture, and decided to examine more of Hellesö’s work.
Based on his wildlife expertise, he began to suspect that Hellesö’s alleged accomplishments were simply too good to be true.
Among Hellesö’s claims called into question by Glöersen are reports that the nature photographer had seen 150 lynx in nine months, when Glöersen himself had only seen 15 in 52 years.
In a debate between Glöersen and Hellesö on Sveriges Radio (SR) on August 30th, Hellesö at first denied the allegations that he had doctored his images.
However, four days later, on September 3rd, he changed his mind and admitted the forgeries to his wife.
The Local reported last week that Tommy Berglund, an inspector and wildlife tracker at the County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland, reported Hellesö to the police for fraud.