Aborigines might be allowed to hunt non-endangered animals for ritualistic or religious purposes during traditional festivals, Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) said on Wednesday, adding that the ministry is considering relaxing regulations on national parks to implement the plan.
Chen made the remarks in response to media queries about the case of Bunun hunter Tama Talum, also known as Wang Kuang-lu (王光祿), whose prison sentence for killing a wild boar and a Formosan serow in 2013 was upheld by the Supreme Court in October last year.
The issue was highlighted by a protest by representatives of 14 Aboriginal communities on Tuesday.
Fifty-six-year-old Wang was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for breaking laws on gun control and wild animal conservation.
Wang told police that he found the gun in the mountains and that he was hunting lean meat for his ailing 92-year-old mother, as the food products sold in “plains markets” was too fatty for her.
His conviction triggered protests by members of the Bunun and other Aboriginal communities, who said the law was too harsh against Aborigines for whom hunting is a traditional way of life.
Chen said that the ministry is in the process of drafting a proposal to amend the National Park Act (國家公園法), that would permit Aborigines to hunt in national parks for ritualistic or religious purposes, on the condition that their prey is not under imminent threat of extinction and is not in limited numbers.
The proposed amendments are to be designed to be more respectful to Aborigineal culture, modeled after the Forestry Act’s (森林法) protections of Aboriginal rights, he added.
To curtail farmland losses, the National Land Planning Act (國土計劃法) is to zone the nation’s land into four categories — agricultural development areas, national reserve areas, marine resource areas and urban development areas — and allow governmental construction projects for dams, airports, highways and other infrastructure only in designated urban-development areas, Chen said.
When asked to comment on whether the National Land Planning Act would authorize the government to demolish illegal hostels and hotels, such as those found near Nantou County’s Cingjing Farm (清境農場), Construction and Planning Agency Director-General Hsu Wun-long (許文龍) said legal research by his agency is pending the act’s promulgation.
Additional reporting by CNA
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