An Aboriginal councilor at the Hualien County Council yesterday urged the central government to amend the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) so that Aborigines can regain the liberty to engage in traditional hunting practices.
Hualien County Councilor Yu Hsia-fu (余夏夫) of the Amis tribe said police stationed at Taroko National Park had arrested many Aborigines recently on suspicion of engaging in what was termed “illegal hunting.”
The suspects remained under investigation by the Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office.
Yu said similar cases had occurred on repeated occasions, leading many Aborigines to complain that government regulations had “chained” them, leaving them unable to hunt.
Aborigines have several festivals every year, including the Harvest Festival as well as the bird or fish hunting season, Yu said. The large sacrifices used at these events mainly come from hunting, he said.
“We follow the traditional way of hunting and would not capture wild animals irresponsibly,” Yu said.
“However, since the act came into force, [traditional] hunting has always gotten Aborigines into trouble with the authorities. What’s worse, prosecutors can decide to press charges against us and we can end up in jail,” the councilor said.
Many Aborigines could only present small sacrifices such as the masked palm civet at some of the important festivals because hunters are now barred from capturing large animals such as goats and the Reeves’ Muntjac, which are listed as animals that need to be protected, Yu said.
Aside from the limitation on the animals that can be hunted, Yu said the application procedures for hunting have become stricter and more complicated than before.
Yu said Aborigines have been hunting for hundreds of years and that he had never heard of any animal moving to the brink of extinction as a result of their hunting activities.
Aborigines are people who truly know how to conserve wildlife, he added.
“Our ancestors have taught us to catch big ones [animals] and let the small ones go, so the species can continue to live generation after generation,” he said.
Yu said he would establish a special task force at the Hualien County Council to advocate the freedom to hunt on behalf of Aborigines. Meanwhile, he said the government should allow again Aboriginals’ right to hunt by amending regulations.
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