Arthur, the biggest bear in Romania shot by an Austrian prince in a protected natural area, NGOs say

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Agent Green and VGT (Austria) NGOs accuse a prince of Austria of killing the biggest brown bear in Romania, under the pretext of eliminating a bear from Covasna that causes damage across the locals’ households.

Austrian Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein would have come to Romania in March and, for a fee of EUR 7,000, according to Pro TV.

Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein, a resident of Riegersburg, a town in the Austrian region of Styria, based his killing of the largest bear on a derogation from the Romanian Ministry of the Environment to eliminate a bear cub that had caused damage last year in some farms in Ojdula, Covasna county. But in reality, the Prince did not kill the problem bear, but a male who lived in the depths of the forest and who had never come near the localities. The Arthur bear has been observed for many years by the Agent Green ranger in the area and was recognized as a wild and unusual specimen with the presence of man and the food sources provided by him. Its habitat was the Natura 2000 protected area Oituz-Ojdula ROSCI0130, Agent Green NGO reports.

Arthur was 17 years old and was the largest bear observed in Romania and probably the largest living in the European Union. The corpse’s measurements indicate that Arthur had 593 points out of 600, which is the maximum possible in the trophy hunting industry. I have never heard of such a record score before. I wonder how the prince could confuse a female with a chicken coming to the village with the largest male that existed in the depths of the forest. It is clear that the prince did not come to solve the problem of the locals but to kill the bear and take home the biggest trophy to hang it on the wall. We are dealing with a game of poaching, since they shot the wrong bear “, said Gabriel Paun, the president of Agent Green.

The bear faces multiple threats that endanger its survival: habitat degradation, climate change and human persecution. The Ministry of Environment must address the causes that led to the bear-man conflict and not the effects (…)It is a shame for Austria that Prince Emanuel abused a derogation to kill this beautiful bear just to tick a new blow on his list of trophies”, said Ann-Kathrin Freude, campaign coordinator of VGT (Verein Gegen Tierfabriken), an animal rights organization in Austria.

The brown bear is a species strictly protected by EU law and the Berne Convention. Derogations are exceptions that occur in extreme cases on a case-by-case basis.

Read more here.

Romanian authorities’ reactions

Romanian PM Florin Citu said that he had had a discussion with Environment minister Tanczos Barna about the killed bear, about whom environment NGOs say it is the biggest bear in Romania.

“I understand there is a ongoing investigation, we’ll see the results. It seems that not all information in the public space are correct. It seems it is not the biggest bear, but we’ll see the conclusions of the inquiry”, Citu said.

Romanian Environment Minister, Tanczos Barna told Digi24 that “it is extremely complicated” to establish if the bear killed by the Austrian prince is the one for which Romanian Ministry of the Environment  had granted derogation. The minister announced that an inquiry had been opened.

The minister also tried to justify the alleged poaching action saying that “bears are causing problems”.

In his turn, the chief of the Envirnoment Guard, Octavian Berceanu told Digi 24 that poaching is the main suspicion in the Arthur bear case, as it would have been mistaken for a she-bear that used to cause damage in the people’s households.

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