Tue, Dec 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Stuffed Formosan bear specimen put on display in Yuli

By Hua Meng-ching and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

From left, Bunun Warden Lai Chin-te, his brother, Lai Chin-lung, and Black Bear Conservation Association honorary director Hwang Mei-hsiu stand in front of a preserved specimen of a Formosan black bear at the Taiwan Black Bear Education Center in Hualien County’s Yuli Township on Sunday.

Photo: Hua Meng-ching, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Black Bear Education Center on Sunday unveiled a taxidermy display of a female Formosan black bear that died in September last year on the riverbed of the Lakulaku River (拉庫拉庫溪) in Hualien County’s Yuli Township (玉里).

The bear was mounted by the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau, which lent the specimen to the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association for the exhibition.

The bear, which was about 10 years old when it died, is arranged in a seated position in a pile of ring-cupped oak, which is part of the species’ diet.

To welcome the bear home and to comfort its soul, people made food offerings and performed a gun salute, and Lin Shui-yuan (林水源), leader of the Sinkan community in Jhuosi Township (卓溪), sang a Bunun mourning song, the association said.

The Dafen (大分) mountain area in Jhuosi is nicknamed “bear country,” as it has the nation’s highest population density of Formosan black bears.

“The bear has come home,” association honorary director Hwang Mei-hsiu (黃美秀) said. “On the one hand, I am mourning, but on the other hand, I feel like many things are signs of divine providence.”

“I believe there is some meaning to the discovery of this black bear,” Hwang said. “It is trying to let people know and care about the damage caused by illegal hunting.”

Hwang, who is an associate professor and director of the Institute of Wildlife Conservation at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, said that in the 20 years that she has been involved with Formosan black bear research, she had recorded 28 bears, three of which she found in Taichung County’s Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area (大雪山國家森林遊樂區), while the other 25 were in Yushan National Park (玉山國家公園).

As many as 15 of these black bears were injured, Hwang said, adding that the number of black bears in Yushan National Park and Guanshan Major Wildlife Habitat (關山野生動物重要棲息環境) is on the increase, but the situation in other regions is worsening.

A 3D CT scan image displayed at the exhibition shows that the bear’s left claw was already completely lost when it was found, while the right claw was missing the middle and proximal phalanges of its fifth finger, the association said.

The university said it could infer that the broken paw caused the death of the bear, which fell down while it was climbing and hit its head.

The bear was then flushed downstream by the rainfall from a typhoon, the university said, adding that it was discovered by Aboriginal community leader Lai Chin-te (賴金德), who reported the discovery to researchers.

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