Environmental campaigners suspect a Liechtenstein prince shot dead probably the biggest bear alive in the EU on a hunting expedition in Romania in March.
They say Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein had been granted a permit to shoot a female bear that had caused damage to some farms.
But it was not a female that was shot but Arthur, a 17-year-old brown bear.
Romania’s national environmental guard has launched an investigation into the bear’s death.
There is no verification that a hunting permit was granted to the prince.
Trophy hunting was barred in Romania in 2016 as the brown bear is protected by an EU directive. But hunting is allowed for “problematic” bears that cause damage.
Campaigners say a local farmer had complained of an issue with three females and their cubs some time ago, but that the March kill had not solved the issue.
Environment Minister Tanczos Barna confirmed that a permit had been issued to get rid of a nuisance bear but did not give details of who received it.
The head of Romania’s National Environmental Guard protection agency, Octavian Berceanu, said an inquiry had been opened last week into why a male bear had been shot and that poaching was one of the suspicions of the case.
As females are far smaller than Arthur, activists believe the older alpha male was deliberately targeted for his trophy value of 592.8 points out of a possible maximum 600.