A prince from the Liechtenstein royal family has denied personally shooting a bear in Romania which sparked outrage this week.
Prince Emanuel of Liechtenstein told Austrian publication Kronen Zeiting that he didn’t shoot the brown bear in March during a hunting expedition to Romania.
In a letter published in Kronen Zeitung, the prince said that he obtained a legal permit to shoot a bear that Romanian authorities considered dangerous.
“Romanian authorities declared it dangerous and allowed it to be shot. I obtained a legal authorization from the competent authorities,” he said.
„I killed the problematic animal 250 meters away from houses in a village, „the letter added.
He insisted the bear he killed wasn’t a bear called ‘Arthur’ as widely reported. Arthur was a 17-year-old bear who was a prized trophy, animal rights groups said.
Critics claimed that the prince allegedly used his influence and money to bypass a 2016 hunting ban.
Romania’s ban allows ‘derogations’ or exemptions for troublesome or aggressive bears which threaten humans and wildlife.
Two animal rights group accused the prince of getting a permit to kill a problematic bear. Instead, he killed Arthur because he was a trophy bear, they claimed.
The government has ordered an investigation.
Romania officially has 6,000 brown bears, the largest population in Europe apart from Russia. Animal welfare groups claim there are just 2,000 bears, while hunting associations say there are 10,000.
Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein as he is officially known said he would cooperate with Romanian authorities. He apologized for „creating a false impression that hurt the feelings of many people.”
He said he paid to hunt the bear, adding that the fees were “primarily invested in protection programs for bears and for the people who live with them.”
“I am extremely sorry and apologize for the fact that an impression was created that hurt many people’s feelings,” he added.