A suspect in Pingtung County’s Hengchun Township (恆春) was detained on Saturday for alleged involvement in the illegal hunting of gray-faced buzzards, migratory birds that flock to the nation annually during this time of the year.
The suspect, surnamed Pan (潘), was found to have nine of the birds, eight of which were dead, while the ninth died after vets were unable to save it from its injuries, police said.
Pan is accused of hunting the birds using an air gun equipped with an infrared scope, police said, adding that he is being charged with violating the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) and the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例).
Every year gray-faced buzzards migrate to Taiwan from Siberia and the Korean Peninsula after traveling through Japan and eastern China and arrive in Hengchun and Manjhou (滿洲) townships around the time of Double Ten National Day.
The Kenting National Park administration each year declares the start of birdwatching season during which the buzzards can be seen in great numbers.
Manjhou Harbor (滿州港口) authorities recorded about 10,000 buzzards flying southerly in skies above the harbor on Wednesday last week.
Authorities said the birds tend to perch near human settlements and are not afraid of people, which draws the attention of poachers.
Police said they set up a stakeout outside of 55-year-old Pan’s residence in Manjhou County’s Lideshan District (里德山), after receiving an anonymous tip that Pan was hunting the birds.
Police arrested him when they allegedly witnessed Pan firing at the birds using a scope-equipped air gun at about 1:40am.
Veterinarian Chien Hsing-hua (錢興華) said that birds are often unable to fly again after their wings are injured, adding that the birds become aggressive once they are wounded.
After birds are shot down poachers usually throw them to the ground repeatedly until they are bleeding and show no movement, Chien said.
“It is a merciless technique,” Chien said.
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