I don't think anyone is denying that the image is interesting and compelling, the question is is the image a wildlife photograph.

Photography is somewhat unique in that an image can be taken and used in a number of contexts. If this image were used in a commercial for a product, then nobody would care if the animal were staged or not; yet still, the image would be regarded as well composed, executed and lit.

Photographers who take pictures for one intended use tend to think every other intended use has inferior standards, that they are the defacto of what photography is, it's purpose, and how an image must be made to have any merit. Nature photographers in particular, from my experience, are especially enthusiastic about their process being purely documentary. Given the number of lost opportunities they must encounter, I suppose I cannot blame them.

The skills which are expected of a set photographer are different from that of a journalist, they have different standards and even different ideas of what a "good" image is. The image at hand would be excellent if it were staged, it would be phenomenal if it were not.

I don't necessarily doubt that the image was staged. But other photographers claiming to have "recognized" the wolf is just plain bogus as far as genuine evidence. I don't know how the photographer claims the image was produced, but being that it was made when there was still considerable amount of light in the sky, I don't see why he couldn't have seen the wolf pack stocking a dear, stood back just as the dear lept over the fence and instinctually brought the lens up to his eye just in time to capture the animal in pursuit.

Placing it in this context, such a frame would not be nearly as impossible to capture, and as we all know, 90% of wildlife photography is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Which kind of makes me, a conceptual photographer, pause and wonder how much skill is there in coincidence? Like I said, we all assume our process is what photography is all about.