Up to 80 percent of the animals legally caught by hunters in Taiwan are not being officially recorded, activists said yesterday, as they expressed concern that wildlife populations in Taiwan are being depleted.
Of the 303 hunting applications approved between 2009 and April this year by five local governments, applicants reported back to the authorities in only 53 cases as required by law, Chu Tseng-hung (朱增宏), said director-general of the Environment and Animals Society of Taiwan.
The approvals were granted in New Taipei City (新北市), Greater Kaohsiung and the counties of Nantou, Hualien and Taitung, Chu said.
He said that conditional hunting is permitted in indigenous communities where hunted game is used in traditional rituals and festivals.
Over the past three years, indigenous hunters have reported catching 26,783 wild animals from 20-plus species, including rare and protected Formosan barking deer, Formosan serow and Formosan sambar, Chu said, citing government statistics.
Conditional hunting has been allowed for years, but the regulations are inconsistent among local governments, Chu said. It was only on Wednesday that the Forestry Bureau finally published detailed regulations governing such activities, he said.
He cited as an example a case in Taitung where a hunting application by Bunun tribespeople was rejected but Forestry Bureau officials were then convinced to approve the application, even though it was out of season.
The Forestry Bureau should conduct a study of Taiwan’s wildlife and recruit game wardens to check whether “cultural hunting” has been expanded to become a business, said Tsai Chih-hao (蔡智豪), secretary-general of the Taichung-based Taiwan Academy of Ecology.
In response, Lin Kuo-chang (林國彰) of the Forestry Bureau said there are cases of illegal hunting as well as the non-reporting of wild animals being caught.
The bureau will try to improve supervision of local governments regarding their enforcement of the regulations, he said.
As for the suggested wildlife study, Lin said it would be technically difficult. However, he said, Taiwan’s leading research institute, Academia Sinica, and the Council of Agriculture have conducted regional studies of the nation’s wildlife.
In terms of monitoring hunting activities, Lin said that, too, has proven difficult because many indigenous peoples’ hunting grounds are deep in the mountains and are not easily accessible.
However, the bureau will put in more effort to monitor hunting and enforce the regulations, he said.