Preventing Wildlife from Accidentally Falling into Traps - Government Will Strengthen the Check for Illegal Hunting Gear and Seek Effective Management

In response to the recent incident of a Formosan black bear falling accidentally into a trap in Hualien, the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture (COA) pointed out that according to the Animal Protection Act, it is illegal to manufacture, sell, and export animal traps and the offenders will be fined a penalty of NT$75,000 or above. Together with the Department of Animal Industry, county and city governments, and police units, nationwide inspections will be conducted in the coming days. Members of the public are urged not to challenge the law.
In addition, for the metal lasso that is also prone to causing injury, although there was a legislation amendment proposal to ban its use in 2017, no consensus has been reached due to its use by the indigenous people for the hunting and agricultural damage control of wild boars. Before the amendment of the legislation, the Forestry Bureau will first invite the indigenous hunting groups and wildlife conservation experts and scholars to discuss the relevant regulations governing the use of lassos, as well as the effort of publicizing and educating the farmers to reduce the chances of capturing protected animals by mistake.
The Forestry Bureau further pointed out that the lassos, commonly known as “wild boar noose”, are mostly used by the indigenous people and farmers in mountain areas to capture the wild boars that are causing crop damage. They do not deliberately use the lassos to hunt black bears, but lassos can also lead to the accidental capture of non-target species and can cause injury or even limb breakage when the animal is struggling to break free. However, Taiwan's mountainous areas are vast. Before the laws and regulations have been clearly established, it requires the discussion and negotiation of the relevant agencies and groups for effective management, instead of simply pushing the issue aside.
The Forestry Bureau emphasized that in recent years, there have been around 110,000 people participating in forest patrol work including the removal of illegal animal traps and other hunting gear every year. The number of dismantled hunting gear has fallen from the peak of 3,099 units in 2011 to 299 units in 2018, showing a significant drop. In the future, the inspection of illegal hunting gear in national forest areas will continue.
The Forestry Bureau pointed out that currently, apart from agricultural damage control and traditional hunting activities by the indigenous people based on the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, any hunting activities using snares, animal traps, or other special hunting tools are illegal. Going back to the incident, in the tradition of the various indigenous tribes, the hunting of bears is strictly prohibited. This incident was also discovered by the tribal community residents who actively notified Professor Hwang Mei-hsiu. The Forestry Bureau will be opening up a public dialog to discuss how to effectively prevent the Formosan black bears from falling accidentally into traps, through the rational regulation and proper autonomous management of the traditional indigenous hunting convention that can cooperate with law enforcement, in order to avoid high-damage hunting activities and safeguard the precious protected wildlife.
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