The bear shot in Ojdula - Covasna County, in a suspected case of trophy-hunting, was harvested 22 days after the issuance of the derogation order, and the hunt was preceded by three weeks of monitoring during which the animal was followed entering yards or coming close to the locality, Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests Barna Tanczos told a press conference today, report agerpres."The investigation teams have completed probing in the case of the Ojdula bear hunt. The main conclusions of the three enquiry reports by the National Environmental Guard, the National Environmental Protection Agency and the Forest Guard are as follows: the hunting association applied for the harvesting of several animals, in three files, two of which were rejected (...) One of the important findings of the probing teams refers to the period the monitoring is carried out after the shooting approval has been issued until the harvest time. This period is currently of 60 days and we have decided that for all subsequent orders, from now on, it shall be shortened to 15 days. Another decision for the case of harvesting troublemaking animals is to allow nobody else to do the shooting but the specialized technical staff. We thus eliminate any possibility to detour the action from its initial purpose. The bear was harvested on March 13, 22 days after the issuance of the derogation order, by an Austrian national. (...) According to the documents verified by the Forest Guard, he had a hunting license, a gun license and from this point of view the law was respected," said Tanczos.
The Minister added that up until now, no monitoring reports have been found with any institution under the authority of the Environment Ministry or the former custodians regarding the existence of the bear known as Arthur.
"Until this information was published in the media, the Ministry had no information about the existence of Arthur the Bear, however certainty exists regarding the harvested specimen. DNA samples were requested from the shot bear that will be sent to the 'Marin Dracea' National Institute for Forestry Development and Research. In order to have a reference to compare these DNA samples to, we will request information from those organizations that had the possibility or did bear monitoring. This way we could remove all doubts about Arthur's existence. We will also request photos or any other document to compare them with the picture in the animal extraction file. I would very much like this trophy to reach the Posada Hunting Museum. The trophy is in the country. According to the law, these trophies cannot leave Romanian territory, so that the Ojdula bear trophy is still available to the hunting association. As to allegations that this male bear would be the biggest in Romania, scoring 593 points, as far as I know, the bear hit by a car near Sovata [in 2019] was worth 620 points," the Minister said.
Asked if he knows how Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein came to hunt in Ojdula, the Environment Minister replied that he must "certainly have a connection with the hunting association in question, because otherwise he couldn't have been present at the extraction of that bear".
Romanian environmental NGO Agent Green and Austrian NGO VGT condemned in a press release last week the killing this March, by Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein, of the brown bear they called Arthur, in an act of trophy hunting.
Environmental activists claim that in fact the prince did not kill the troublemaking female bear that was supposed to be extracted, but a male that lived deep in the wild and had never come near human settlements.
The National Anticorruption Directorate announced on Tuesday that it has opened a criminal case investigating in rem acts of abuse of office in the case of the recent killing of Arthur the Bear.
Romania's bear shooting case has also come to the attention of the authorities in Brussels, with European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius stating on Monday - as cited by politico.eu - that he is looking into reports from several NGOs about the Liechtenstein prince shooting a 17-year old bear in Romania.
Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein, a part-time doctor who lives in a castle in Austria, issued a statement on Friday denying that he had shot Arthur, but rather had downed a different "problem animal" that had been cleared to be killed by Romanian authorities and was 250 meters from inhabited houses. The prince also said he offered his full support to the investigation, adding there had been "false reports and agitation" since the news broke, Austrian media report.
According to Agent Green, the brown bear is a species strictly protected under EU law and the Berne Convention, and waivers to shoot an animal are issued only in exceptional cases, after a thorough assessment of the specific situation, and the lethal method is only a last resort, when alternatives (including relocation) have all failed and the problem bear is endangering human lives and households.