A man suspected of releasing poisonous snakes into a mountainous area of Yilan County denied the accusation yesterday, saying the snakes he released were non-toxic and not endangered species.
A 36-year-old man, surnamed Wu (吳), told police the snakes that he and five friends released — about 30 of them — were non-toxic Dhaman and stink rat snakes that he purchased for NT$30,000 from a snake supplier in New Taipei City (新北市) on June 1.
Wu came forward after his Internet post titled “Releasing animals can be addictive,” in which he professed to releasing the creatures to save them, drew heavy criticism from the public because several cobras were spotted in the area around the time Wu and his friends released his serpents.
The post, which gave details of the location, did not give information regarding the types of snakes released.
Officials from the Yilan County Fire Bureau said they captured four cobras, one stink rat snake and one Dhaman rat snake in the area on Tuesday.
They said they spotted about 10 other snakes, but were unable to capture them because of the difficult terrain.
The police are investigating Wu’s claims to determine whether he and his friends violated the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) and the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法). Wu’s five friends and the New Taipei City-based snake supplier will also be investigated.
The maximum prison sentence for releasing protected species into the wild is five years, according to the wildlife act.
If Wu did release cobras, a protected species, he would face a prison sentence, the Yilan County Government said.
Even if he did not release any cobras, he might be fined a maximum of NT$12,000 or be detained for a maximum of three days for violating the social order act, the county government added.