Romania: dispute in the wake of bear killing

A hunting trip undertaken by Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein has caused an uproar in Romania. The prince reportedly shot a brown bear in the Carpathian Mountains in March that should not have been cleared for shooting. Environmentalists are outraged, claiming he killed Romania's largest living bear. The press examines different aspects of the incident.

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Krónika (RO) /

Bear overpopulation must be controlled

Romanian environmental organisations like Agent Green are hyping up the incident to use it as an argument against urgently needed controls of the wildlife population, Krónika fumes:

“The environmentalists needed a scapegoat - which, luckily for them, Agent Green has now found - to once again torpedo the possibility of controlling surplus bear populations. The responsible ministry in Bucharest then immediately backed down.”

Új Szó (SK) /

What role does size play here?

What makes the life of one animal so important? Új Szó asks:

“What if [Prince Emanuel] had also run over a hare with his car on the way? Both the bear and the hare have only one life. Both are animals. Well, the bear is big, of course. The hare is only small in comparison. That's why bear poaching is outrageous, while hares - well, they're just hares. But does that mean that the bigger an animal is, the more shocking its death?” (RO) /

Bears die where corruption thrives

Since the hunter is accused of poaching, the case has turned into a criminal investigation. Columnist Iuliana Roman-Popovici hopes in that the question of responsibility will be clarified:

“Virgin forests and beasts of prey are not found in places marked by progress. On the contrary, they're found in countries where corruption and poverty flourish. Countries that still sell the 'biggest bear' in Europe for 7,000 euros [the estimated price for the kill], not out of poverty, but out of stupidity, out of a lack of ecological education, and out of a lack of harmony with nature. The judiciary will now have to tell us whether we are dealing with a criminal case of poaching, with the killing of a protected animal in a nature reserve. ... I just hope that in the end the honourable judges won't conclude that it was all Arthur the bear's fault.”

Newsweek România (RO) /

Adding fuel to the fire

Politicians from the ruling PNL and USR parties called for Riegersburg Castle, a tourist attraction in Austria which belongs to the prince, to be boycotted. Newsweek Romania is stunned:

“We are returning step by step to 1990, when we hated foreigners, when there were slogans like: 'We won't sell our country' and when we dreamed of a strong state that would provide for us all. The leaders of the PNL and USR are pouring fuel on this very same fire instead of opposing this form of populism, instead of looking for solutions to counter the wave of hysterical nationalism and xenophobia. ... In a way, one can even understand why they are doing this: they have been in government for months, but so far all they have done is argue, so now they are clinging to any issue that will make them more popular.”