Thu, Jul 21, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Black bear encounters on rise

‘FROM FORESTS TO STREETS’:Improper storage of food and disposal of kitchen waste have drawn bears to the mountain cabins and trails of Yushan National Park

By Liu Pin-chuan and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Two Formosan black bears search for food outside a lodge in Nantou County’s Yushan National Park in an undated photograph. Yushan National Park Administration Office plans to install locks on storage boxes outside all mountain lodges to stop bears from stealing food.

Photo courtesy of Yushan National Park Headquarters

As visitor encounters with the Formosan black bear are increasing along the trails of Yushan National Park, the Yushan National Park Administration Office (玉山國家公園管理處) said it would host a series of seminars to inform the public about the protection of the bear, how to avoid dangerous encounters with the endangered animal and what to do if an encounter occurs.

Increased signage is being erected in areas where bears have been sighted to inform hikers about their presence, the office said, adding that it would also install locks on outdoor food storage units in the area in a bid to prevent bears from foraging near people’s homes.

The office said it would host three instructional seminars next month to educate the public on how to coexist harmoniously with the bears.

“Recently, improper storage of food and disposal of kitchen waste by hikers staying at the Cliffside Mountain Cabin (抱崖山屋) in the park’s east and at the Taitung Forest District Office’s Sun-facing Mountain Cabin (向陽山屋) has attracted bears to the facilities in search of food,” the office said. “To try to prevent reoccurrence of this problem, the park will place notices at the Nanan Visitor Center (南安遊客中心) and the Walami Mountain Cabin (瓦拉米山屋), as well as put locks on food storage cabinets to safeguard food supplies and keep bears from coming dangerously close to people.”

“The Dafen (大分) area of the park is considered to have the greatest concentration of the bears, and has long been an important place for the study of the animals. The eastern part of the old Japanese Batongguan pass (八通關日治越道東段), including the Walami, Baoya, Duomeili and Dafen trails, have seen an increase in the number of encounters with the bears,” the office said.

“To prevent conflicts arising from these encounters, the office is to hold three seminars entitled ‘From the Mountain Forests to the Streets,’ aimed at educating the public about the preservation of these animals to the greater public,” it added.

National Pingtung University of Science and Technology Institute of Wildlife Conservation director Hwang Mei-hsu (黃美秀) will make a special appearance this year, along with her research team, joining the seminars on Aug. 19 at the Shueili Township Office (水里行政中心), on Aug. 20 at the Taichung Metropolitan Park and Aug. 21 at the Kaohsiung Metropolitan Park.

She hopes the seminars will make the public better informed about the protection of the endangered Formosan black bear, and learn what to do if an encounter with one occurs.

Registration for the seminars will be open until Aug. 5. Interested parties can consult the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association Web site at www.taiwanbear.org.tw) for more information.

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