Tue, Dec 14, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Protected species to be hunted

TRADITION A trial research project will allow the killing of a limited number of endangered animals, but only by Bunun Aboriginals living in Danda, Nantou County

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hunting protected Formosan barking deer (羌), Formosan serow (長鬃山羊) and Formosan sambar (水鹿) will be allowed from tomorrow until Dec. 24 this year as part of a research project to find new ways of managing the habitats of wild animals without compromising Aboriginal people's traditional culture, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.

The council's Forestry Bureau said that the trial hunting project would be open only to Bunun Aboriginals (布農) in Danda, Nantou County. Licensed hunters will receive training to hunt many kinds of wild animals, including the three protected species.

"However, the number of animals hunters are allowed to shoot has been strictly limited. Hunting 200 Formosan barking deer, 50 Formosan serow and 10 Formosan sambar in the trial will not have a negative impact on their populations," said Fang Kuo-yun (方國運), head of the bureau's Resources Conservation Division.

Since Taiwan's National Park Law (國家公園法) went into force in 1972, hunting wild animals has been prohibited within national parks, which mostly overlap with places where Aboriginal people live. In 1989, when the Wild Animal Protection Law (野生動物保護法) came into effect, hunting protected animals anywhere became illegal.

However, to not compromise Aboriginal culture, the Wild Animal Protection Law has been revised to make hunting protected wild animals acceptable for the sake of traditional festivities. Nonetheless, illegal hunting of protected wild animals remains common in mountainous areas in Taiwan.

"We hope to come up with better ways of managing of wild animal resources in Taiwan. Examples from the US and some European countries encouraged us to believe that appropriate management of hunting affairs might lead to a decrease in illegal hunting," Fang said.

Bureau officials said that hunters' kills would be carefully examined and no trading would be allowed.

The animals killed in the trial hunting project -- 563 in total -- will all be used in the year-end celebration of the Bunun.

Wang Ying (王穎), a professor of life sciences at National Taiwan Normal University, has carried out surveys on wildlife resources in Danda for years with the bureau's support. He estimates that more than 5,000 protected animals have been killed annually as a result of illegal hunting, but the populations nonetheless remain stable.

"Due to inappropriate animal protection methods, some national park administrations in the US even need to have culling seasons for hunters to help control populations of protected wild animals. I designed a trial project in Danda in a bid to find effective ways to manage habitats for wild animals without hurting the sustainability of the environment," Wang said.

Conservationists have expressed doubt about the project, saying it would be the beginning of the legalization of a cruel and dangerous hunting culture in Taiwan, a nation with finite resources.

"The Democratic Progressive Party's sacrificing innocent animals' lives under the name of restoring Aboriginal culture is a just way to please Aboriginal voters," said Shih Chuan-fa (釋傳法), secretary-general of the Life Conservationist Association.

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