The Forestry Bureau has gathered specialists for deliberation on whether Formosan macaques should be excluded from the list of protected species, as well as other policies to control the population.
The bureau made the remark following reports that several visitors were attacked by Formosan macaques at Yushan National Park last weekend, leading to concerns about whether the visitors that were bitten by the monkeys have been infected by rabies or the herpes B virus.
While the monkeys have been captured and quarantined for further observation, and the injured visitors have been vaccinated and monitored for infection symptoms, the bureau said it has gathered specialists earlier this week to discuss whether the species should be excluded from the protected species list.
Although some locally elected representatives have suggested culling some macaques to stop their population from expanding too fast, the bureau’s Conservation Division director Kuan Li-hao (管立豪) said the Formosan macaque is a species endemic to Taiwan and listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, therefore it would be controversial to cull any of them.
The civic animal protection group Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said it is against excluding the species from protection, because the fundamental solutions should be to ban the feeding of monkeys and to neuter them to control the expanding population.
Kuan said due to increasing cases of people being injured or crops being damaged by the monkeys, the bureau has already worked with research facilities to perform contraceptive injections or neutering on the monkeys in Changhua and Tainan.
“We are experimenting with these methods and next month is the high peak of the species’ breeding season,” Kuan said, adding that they hope to finish the project by using blowguns to perform contraceptive injections on the monkeys in the two areas during this period.
The project’s result will be monitored at the end of the year as reference for deciding whether the operation should be expanded to other areas.