Hualien National Park and forestry authorities are scrambling to help reunite a wandering Formosan black bear cub with its mother, after park visitors spotted the cub crossing the highway multiple times and trying to eat plastic bottles.
Sightings of the cub near the Nanan waterfalls east of Yushan National Park prompted the Forestry Bureau to close the area to visitors on Friday last week, but the cub was seen again the next day crossing Provincial Highway No. 30.
Due to earlier reports by local media, throngs of people could be seen near the highway trying to see the cub.
Eyewitnesses interviewed for this story said the cub has been wandering around Lakulaku Valley (拉庫拉庫溪谷), chewing on plastic bottles and other inedible garbage and crossing the highway, affecting traffic.
The increased human activity could hinder the mother bear’s effort to find her cub, black bear expert Hwang Mei-hsiu (黃美秀) told the Central News Agency, adding that the cub is probably four months old and weighs about 5kg to 6kg.
The Forestry Bureau’s Hualien District Office on Monday convened a meeting with officials from the Yushan National Park, the Directorate-General of Highways and the Seventh Special Police Corps, and local community leaders.
The cub’s mother might have run off after being frightened, conservation expert Chu Ho-tsung (朱何宗) said at the meeting.
Formosan black bears are timid creatures and the mother bears generally have a territory of 30km2 to 60km2, he said.
The cub has probably been weaned, but would still need its mother to learn how to survive and what to eat, Chu said.
Lin Yung-hung (林泳宏), a Bunun, said his people consider the area the rightful home of black bears and the local community fully supports efforts to protect the cub until it can fend for itself.
Government officials agreed to reduce human intrusion in the area by closing the Walami Trail (瓦拉米步道) for two weeks from 6am on Tuesday, office director Yang Jui-fen (楊瑞芬) said.
The Nantou and Hualien county police bureaus are responsible for limiting foot traffic along the trail, while the Directorate-General of Highways is to control vehicles along the highway, she said.
The office would monitor the cub and feed it when necessary, she said, adding that it is organizing a panel of outside experts to discuss how best to reunite the cub with its mother, she said.
Additional reporting by CNA