Romanian police will investigate a possible poaching case involving an Austrian prince who is reported to have “wrongly” killed a massive male bear in a trophy hunt on a visit to the country’s Carpathian Mountains in March, authorities said Wednesday. Official hunting documents seen by the AP confirms that Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein was granted a four-day hunting permit in March in Romania's Covasna County and that on March 13 he “harvested” a 17-year-old brown bear, for which he allegedly paid the princely sum of 7,000 euros ($8,400). A senior official from Romania's environmental ministry, Octavian Berceanu, told the AP that an investigation into the case was launched on April 29 and that poaching is the one of the suspicions in the case.
Agent Green, an environmental nongovernmental organization that monitored the large male bear they called “Arthur” for nine years, says that he lived “deep in the wild” and had no contact with human settlements. Romania officially banned trophy hunting in 2016, but hunting permits for “problematic” bears—ones that damage things such as farm crops or domestic animals—can be issued to hunting associations but only as a last resort, after relocation measures fail. These permits are then sold to trophy hunters. But Agent Green claims that the environment authorities issued the hunting permit based on a complaint about a “problematic” cub-rearing female bear that had caused damage in the village of Ojdula in Transylvania last summer. Says the agency's president, “I wonder how the prince mistook the biggest male living deep in the wild against the much smaller female next to the village.” (Much more on the strange case here.)