Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein, a member of Liechtenstein's royal family, is being placed under investigation for allegedly killing Romania's largest brown bear.

According to a report in The Associated Press, the royal was granted a four-day permit by the Romanian environment ministry to organise a trophy hunt in the country's Carpathian Mountains in March, during which he was given special approval to shoot a female brown bear. However, he "wrongly" killed a 17-year-old male bear known as 'Arthur' on March 13, for which he allegedly paid the princely sum of 7,000 euros (£6,042).

Trophy hunting was banned in Romania in 2016, but permits are issued for "problematic" bears who could damage farm crops or domestic animals as a last resort. Environment Minister Tanczos Barna confirmed that a hunting permit was issued to kill a female bear in Covasna county who was a nuisance to residents, but did not reveal that the permit was given to the royal.

Romania's National Environment Guard (NEG) started an investigation into the death of a bear from a protected species in central Romania on April 29 after noticing some missing documents. NEG senior official Octavian Berceanu said that poaching is one of the suspicions in the case.

"We knew that a female bear was supposed to be extracted, but we afterwards found a (dead) male bear," he said.

"The local environment agency should inform the Environmental Guard after the shooting, but this didn't happen," Berceanu said about the incident, adding that all the available papers will now go the police.

Another environmental nongovernmental organisation Agent Green, that had been monitoring "Arthur" for nine years, said it lived "deep in the wild" and had no contact with human settlements. It was also the largest brown bear seen in Romania, and probably in the European Union as well. A document released by the NGO named "Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein" - a Liechtenstein royal who is a resident of Riegersburg in Austria - as the hunter.

"It was always about shooting the biggest bear and not about solving the problem of the community. I wonder how the prince mistook the biggest male living deep in the wild against the much smaller female next to the village," Gabriel Paun, president of Agent Green, told the media agency.

The authorities haven't been able to contact the prince's estate despite several attempts.

Brown bear
Romania has Europe's highest number of brown bears Daniel MIHAILESCU/AFP