May 4, 2021, the Agent Green organization, an environmental protection non-profit NGO, announced that `Arthur, the largest bear in Romania` was hunted in March, by a member of Liechtenstein’s royal family, in the Ojdula municipality (Covasna county), in a protected area.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests started an enquiry regarding this case, while prosecutors with the National Anticorruption Directorate have started an in rem investigation on the shooting of the brown bear, as there is suspicion of abuse of office with obtaining material benefits for oneself or another.

Information regarding this case was widely debated in the media all over the country and was also reported on by the foreign press. In Romania, the debate that was generated by this topic has confronted the opinions of environmental and animal rights activists, hunters, and authorities in charge of upholding compliance with the environmental protection legislation. Subsequently, there were contradictory claims regarding the veracity of the fact that the bear that was hunted in Covasna was indeed the largest in Romania.


In this context, IRES has carried out a survey which targeted various dimensions of the narratives circulating in the public space regarding the case of the brown bear that was shot in Romania by a member of Liechtenstein’s royal family:

  • Perceptions on the legal context and suspicion of corruption which made this case possible;
  • Expectations regarding the legal consequences of this case;
  • Opinions on the management of Romania’s natural resources;
  • Attitudes regarding wildlife hunting and its role in current society, as well as regarding wildlife protection;
  • Degree of knowledge regarding how wildlife hunting is practiced in Romania;
  • Degree of knowledge on the activity of environmental organizations;
  • Involvement in environmental protection;
  • Perceptions and attitudes on the deforestation in Romania.


Animal welfare and protection is very important to Romanians, according to their answers. In the context of its high notoriety, the case of the bear that was hunted in Romania by a member of Liechtenstein’s royal family is perceived by Romanians as an event that was facilitated by corruption and law breaking and their expectations are focused on change to the legislation, as well as the sanctioning of those involved. However, 1 in 5 Romanians believes that this case will have no consequence.


Romanians are very concerned with animal welfare and protection as well as aware of the lack of Romanian legislation that protects animals’ rights.

9 in 10 Romanians say that animal protection is an important or very important cause for them, while under a fifth say that currently, the rights of animals are well or very well protected by Romanian legislation.

Asked if they agree or disagree with the ways animals are treated and exploited for various purposes:

  • Over a third of Romanians (36%) agree with shutting down zoos and prohibiting the breeding of wild animals in captivity;
  • 4 in 10 Romanians would agree to the prohibition of intensive breeding of animals (for example: that which is aimed at increasing productivity by shortening the growth phase or by using small spaces);

·         45% are in favour of banning the breeding of dolphins or seals for aquariums;

·         Over half of Romanians (52%) say that they disagree with breeding wildlife for the sole purpose of being hunted;

·         Over half of respondents (53%) agree with the prohibition of fur trading;

·         54% are in favour of banning all experimentation on animals, when alternative methods can be used;

·         As far as prohibiting the use of animals in circus shows, even though Romanian authorities passed a law to this regard in 2017, opinions are split: 49% agree with this measure, while 49% are against it.


Arthur’s hunt: corruption and law breaking

Almost 8 in 10 Romanians have heard about the case that was publicized lately regarding the case of the bear that was shot in Romania by a member of the Liechtenstein royal family, during a hunt taking place in March this year. Men have heard about the case in a higher proportion compared to women, while awareness increases proportionally with the age and level of education of respondents.

Almost three quarters of respondents that have heard about Arthur the bear’s case believe that the hunt was not legally organized, while 16% believe it was legally organized. The youngest (aged 18-35) and oldest (aged 65 and over) categories of respondents, as well as those living in the Moldova region think that the hunt was illegal in higher proportions.

Moreover, three quarters of respondents that have heard about the case believe that corruption was involved.

As there was talk in the media that the hunting permit was issued for another bear and not the one that was shot, the responsibility for this situation is seen by relatively equal proportions of Romanians to belong to the Romanian state (44%) and the organizers of the hunt (43%). While the elderly, those with lower education and residents of Moldova tend to claim the Romanian state is responsible in higher proportions, interviewees aged 51 to 65, as well as those with higher education choose the organizers of the hunt as being responsible in higher proportions.

Asked about how this case will be solved, in their opinion, 1 in 5 respondents that have heard about it think there will be no consequences and that nothing will happen; 38% think that legislation will be changed; over a quarter (27%) think that the representatives of the hunting estate will be sanctioned, while the same proportion of interviewees believe that the hunter will be sanctioned.

The full results of the survey can be found on the IRES website.

Technical sheet of the survey
Sample size: 1.004 respondents aged 18 and over
Sample type: simple, random, representative sample for Romania’s adult, non-institutionalized population
 maxim tolerated error of ± 3.19%
Data collection period: 7 – 11 May 2021
Data collection method: The data was collected using the CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) method