The Romanian authorities have initiated a criminal investigation into the shooting of the largest brown bear in the country. The Romanian Environmental Inspectorate checks, inter alia, the possibility of poaching in the case. Leader in the case? A Liechtenstein prince.
On Wednesday, in a press release, two environmental organisations accused Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein there of having stumbled Arthur, the largest bear in Romania and perhaps the EU, into a protected nature reserve in the Carpathians.
The 42-year-old prince does not want to respond to the case against media in Austria, where he lives.
No problem bear
Since 2016, there has been a total ban on boar hunting in Romania, where around 6000 bears live the largest brown bear population in Europe.
Only in exceptional cases will a hunting licence be issued in the country, for example if a bear causes structural nuisance or is dangerous to humans. Prince Emanuel, family of the ruling Liechtenstein prince Hans Adam II, would have bought a licence for such a problem bear for 7000 euros.
“ This was a young bear who came close to houses,” says Robert Bas, former journalist of DeccEit who lives in Romania today, in the CCEit Radio 1 News.
But in reality, in March, with the license in his back pocket, the prince would have deliberately searched for Arthur, 70 kilometers away, deep in a protected forest area. The 17-year-old male lived far away from civilization and was listed in Romania as the largest brown bear in the country. That made him a prestigious hunting trophy.
Robert Bas explains that Arthurs death has been the talk of the day in Romania for days. “There are a lot of people very angry about this,” says Bas. “This is very similar to what you see in Africa. In other words, rich people who, with the permission of the government, shoot a lion or elephant.”
According to Bas, theres a hint of corruption around the shooting of the bear. “It looks like someone made up: we get a license for another bear, and then we pretend he accidentally shot this bear.”
Gabriel Paun, president of the Romanian environmental organisation Agent Green, wonders aloud how the prince can confuse a young bear who causes problems in a few farms with the largest male in the country. “It is clear that the prince did not come to solve the problem of the local population. He came to take home the biggest trophy and hang it on the wall,” he says.
The two environmental organisations that have put the matter on the map believe that there are too many grey areas in the Romanian hunting permit system, which is why trophy hunters can benefit from.
Robert Bas: “In addition, the Romanians are increasingly interested in their own nature. Many bears live here and they are becoming more and more a tourist attraction. People come to Romania to see them. When a prince comes by to shoot the biggest one, its not good in Romania.”
Bas says that the first petitions have been launched to at least return the skin of Arthur, which he would have taken as a trophy.