The Cabinet yesterday approved amendments to the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) and the Wildlife Protection Act (野生動物保育法) that ban the use of animal traps for any purpose and regulate an animal release ceremony known as fangsheng (放生).
Under the current regulations, exemptions to the ban on lethal animal traps are granted to Aborigines who hunt or kill wildlife in accordance with their traditions.
However, since the general ban was implemented in June 2011, there have been many cases of animals being seriously injured by traps, said the Council of Agriculture, which proposed the amendments.
The incidents have damaged the country’s image and highlighted the need for a comprehensive ban on the use of body-gripping traps, the council said.
It also suggested subjecting organizers of fangsheng rituals to prior approval before they are allowed to free any animals.
The practice of purchasing animals that are due to be slaughtered and letting them go is a Buddhist tradition that has become popular because it is seen as a charitable way to generate merit for the practitioner. This has led many people to capture wildlife to release in mass commercial fangsheng ceremonies.
If the legislature passes the amendments, people organizing fangsheng events will face a fine of up to NT$50,000 for releasing wilflife or a maximum fine of NT$250,000 (US$8,244) for releasing any endangered creatures if they fail to adhere to regulations on animal release drawn up by the council.