Romania has tightened its hunting regulations after a Liechtenstein prince was accused of illegally killing probably the biggest brown bear in the country and the entire European Union.
Environmental groups say Arthur (17) was shot by Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein during a visit to Transylvania arranged with a local hunting association, which had official permission to kill a female bear that had been troubling farmers in the village of Ojdula.
"But in reality, the prince did not kill the problem bear, but a male who lived deep in the forest and never came close to villages," said Romanian NGO Agent Green, which published what appear to be a permit for the prince to hunt in the Ojdula area and proof that he killed a large bear that scored very highly on a scale used by trophy hunters.
"Arthur was 17 years old and the largest bear observed in Romania and probably the largest living in the European Union. The body's measurements show that Arthur scored 593 points out of 600, which is the maximum possible in the trophy hunting industry," said Gabriel Paun, the president of Agent Green.
“It is clear that the prince did not come to solve the locals’ problem but to kill a bear and take home the biggest trophy to hang on the wall. It is a case of poaching, because they shot the wrong bear.”
Trophy hunting has been banned since 2016 in Romania, which is thought to be home to the EU’s largest populations of brown bears, wolves and lynx – all of which have EU protection.
Police have opened a criminal investigation into Arthur's death, and Romanian environment minister Tanczos Barna announced on Thursday evening that foreigners could no longer visit the country to shoot "problem" animals.
“From today the rules have changed ... and all ‘removals’ in case of force majeure – danger to public health, danger to human life, danger to property – are to be performed by the requesting association and technical staff,” he said.
The prince, who lives in Austria, has not commented on the allegations, and the office of the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein told AFP news agency that it did not know the background of this "private and personal matter".
“However, the Princely House would like to point out that respect for nature has been one of the fundamental concerns of the House and is a central element of the family’s commitment to ecological and social sustainability,” it said.