Results from the Constitutional Interpretation on Indigenous Hunting Rights Case Forestry Bureau: In Line with Expectations, Actively Revising Hunting Provisions

The Constitutional Court of the Judicial Yuan announced Interpretation No. 803 today (7) stating whether the relevant regulations of the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act and the relevant provisions of the Wildlife Conservation Act regarding hunting by indigenous peoples are unconstitutional. In this regard, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that it has always been the COA's principle to take into account wildlife conservation and animal welfare, as well as to ensure the sustainability of resources. The results of the constitutional interpretation by the Constitutional Court are also generally consistent with the policy and the reform direction currently promoted by the Forestry Bureau of the COA.
Regarding the Wildlife Conservation Act, the results of the constitutional interpretation by the Constitutional Court held that the "traditional culture" referred to in Article 21-1, Paragraph 1, should include the non-profit and self-use practices by indigenous peoples, including traditional food and drinks, every day culture, and use of daily tools. However, unless there are special exceptions, the hunting of wildlife should not include protected species in order to balance the values of indigenous peoples' hunting cultural rights and wildlife conservation. Furthermore, the prior approval application system provided for in Paragraph 2 is a necessary means to ensure the sustainability of wildlife resources and is not inconsistent with the constitutional principle of proportionality.
As for Article 4, Paragraph 3 of the "Regulations on the Management of Indigenous Peoples Hunting or Killing of Wildlife based on Rituals or Traditional Culture" (hereafter referred to as the Hunting Regulations), it stipulates that applications for hunting activities should be submitted five days prior to the hunting activity if the hunting is not carried out on a regular basis. This scope lacks flexibility and cannot meet the intermittent traditional diet and cultural needs of indigenous peoples. It is contrary to the principle of constitutional proportionality and shall cease to apply from the date of interpretation. The competent authority shall amend the regulations to provide a diverse and flexible application mechanism for the country's indigenous peoples. In addition, Article 4, Paragraph 4, Subparagraph 4 of the Hunting Regulations stipulates that the application form should specify the species and number of animals to be hunted, which is not in accordance with the traditional culture and taboos of indigenous peoples and violates the principle of constitutional proportionality, and shall cease to apply from the date of interpretation. The competent authority shall approve the species and number of wild animals that the applicant may hunt by way of sanctions or as supplementary provisions, or specify the matters to be complied with in the hunting behavior.
The Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture stated that under the premise of ensuring the sustainability of wildlife resources, the Bureau will respect the cultural and traditional hunting needs of indigenous peoples and assent to their traditional customs and taboos. Based on the results of the pilot autonomous hunting management program of the Forestry Bureau, the Bureau will review and revise the Wildlife Conservation Act and the Hunting Regulations for indigenous peoples as soon as possible, in order to propose an effective management model that is consistent with the spirit of indigenous peoples' cultures and to properly implement the constitutional interpretation by the Constitutional Court.

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