Sat, Apr 27, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Man punished for breeding rare bear

ROUGH JUSTICE Lawmakers decried the fact that a Pingtung man was fined for breeding an endangered Formosan black bear and they called for the relevant law to be changed

CNA , TAIPEI

Lee Teng-cheng holds the four-month-old Formosan black bear he has been raising, outside the Legislature yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Lawmakers urged the government yesterday to assume a positive attitude toward the breeding of protected or endangered species for non-commercial purposes by the private sector, rather than just imposing punishments for such practices.

Two DPP lawmakers called on the Council of Agriculture (COA) to amend articles of the Wildlife Conservation Law so that it stops discouraging the private sector from nurturing and breeding animals from rare and valuable species.

The lawmakers made the call at a press conference yesterday after an appeal by Pingtung resident Lee Teng-cheng (李藤正), who is facing a fine of NT$50,000 (US$1,429) for having successfully bred a baby Formosan black bear. The species has been declared endangered and, in the past several decades, has seldom been seen in the wild.

Lee said that he was given two Formosan black bears by friends more than 10 years ago and that he has since kept the animals in his orchard. The female bear gave birth to a healthy baby bear more than four months ago and the "three of them have lived happily ever since."

DPP lawmakers Lin Yu-sheng (林育生) and Tang Huo-sheng (湯火聖) said government agencies should be more pragmatic when dealing with private-sector suc-cesses in breeding protected or endangered species -- or at least stop imposing penalties for such practices.

Legislator Lin, elected from Pingtung County, said he fully supports the Wildlife Conservation Law's goal of restricting the private sector from breeding or conserving protected and endangered species -- which are aimed at preventing the country's wildlife conservation efforts from becoming unmanageable.

However, he said that, based on humanitarian principles, people who keep animals privately should at least not be punished if they successfully breed endangered species, such as the rare Formosan black bear -- if they do so without the goal of publicly displaying them, selling them or using them for other forms of commercial gain.

Tang said that cases of the successful breeding of Formosan black bears are rare and that even the COA-sponsored wildlife research center only just last year managed to breed a baby bear, after years of painstaking efforts.

Lee's nurturing of the rare animals should not be seen as a crime or dealt with through the imposition of a fine, Tang said. He added that the government should instead implement measures which are more pragmatic and less rigid to help bolster the nation's wildlife conservation efforts.

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