By Nick Iliev
Forest rangers and the police captured three alleged poachers in the Ropotamo nature reserve, one of whom was reported to be the mayor of the seaside town of Sozopol, Panayot Reizi, Bulgarian news agency Focus reported on November 2 2009.
Reizi was confirmed to be one of the three individuals detained on November 1 at about 4pm in the afternoon, website mediapool.bg said.
During a police interrogation, the three captured men said that their party was made of five individuals, the head of the Bourgas regional forest rangers service Roumen Zhelev told Focus. Reportedly, the authorities are still looking for the two other men.
Reizi's party was found with hunting gear near a dead hind, but denied shooting the animal, saying that they were out "picking mushrooms". Forensic experts were examining the hunting rifles, mediapool.bg said.
Mayors, magistrates and high-ranking police officers are routinely caught poaching game, Zhelev told a news conference in Bourgas on November 2, as quoted by Bulgarian news agency BTA.
Employees of the forest rangers service work under intense pressure from other state institutions, which often interfered with efforts to catch poachers, he said. There were also instances when forest rangers were bribed to look the other way, allowing hunters to poach without fear, Zhelev said.