Rila National Park is the largest of Bulgaria’s three national parks, and its 312 picturesque square miles are filled with mountain peaks, glacial lakes, and literally thousands of different species of plants, animals, and assorted invertebrates. Rila was given national park status in 1992, largely so the country could better preserve the biological diversity that is scattered throughout its boundaries.
An estimated 20 different species of reptiles and amphibians also live in the park, and based on how seriously Bulgaria seems to take its commitment to conservation and ecology, it’s probably for the best if you don’t kill and eat any of them during your time at Rila. That said, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Environment and Water would like to have a chat with Bear Grylls.
The former SAS soldier, cable television survivalist, and amateur piss sommelier, filmed an episode of his Running Wild Discovery Channel show in Rila National Park and, in true Grylls fashion, he caught, boiled, and ate frogs while he was there. According to the Bulgarian News Agency, a viewer watched that particular episode—which co-starred reality TV dancer Derek Hough—and snitched about it on the Ministry of Environment and Water’s Facebook page.
“The video in the alert showed a number of violations including entering and swimming in the protected Karakashevo lake, lighting a fire, and hunting and killing animals,” BNA wrote. “After receiving the alert, the Rila park management carried out a check.”
Grylls and his crew had permission to film the episode in June 2017, but the Ministry apparently also expected them to all “abide by the regimes and regulations set out under the Protected Areas Act and the Rila National Park Management Plan.” (It doesn’t seem like they needed to point out “PLEASE DON’T EAT OUR AMPHIBIANS,” but maybe that should be part of the fine print, going forward.)
During the episode, Grylls and Hough collect frogs that they ultimately cook over a camp stove and eat while they sit in the grass. “Once you take the head off, then the guts out, and you boil it up, you munch it down and the bones have a really nice crunch to them,” Grylls said. “Nature provides. I love it.” (Hough was less enthusiastic, describing the meal as “Surprisingly, not as bad as I expected.)
Those frogs could prove to be an expensive meal: the production company is facing a possible fine that could be anywhere between $570 and $5,700, and Grylls and Hough could both get their own fines of between $280 and $2,800.
This isn’t the first time Grylls has been criticized for his treatment of animals during episodes of his various TV shows. PETA (of course) has repeatedly called him out for his behavior, an ultimately fruitless Change.org petition begged the Discovery Channel to stop showing footage of him killing and eating random animals, and legendary broadcaster David Attenborough also threw some shade his way. “We’ve never killed an animal [on my programs],” he told The Sun. “Bear Grylls will have to answer for himself. But I wouldn’t willingly kill an animal just to get a shot.”
Grylls has previously said that he’d eat another human (”I wouldn’t think twice about it If I had to,” he admitted), so it’s probably best if that Bulgarian minister takes some backup when he goes to collect those fines.