Sat, Aug 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Martens keep Yushan CWB staff company

By Hsieh Chieh-yu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A yellow-throated marten stands on its hind feet and raises its front legs near the North Peak Weather Station on Yushan in an undated photograph.

Photo copied by Hsieh Chieh-yu, Taipei Times

For the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) staffers working at the North Peak Weather Station on Yushan (玉山), the shy but nimble yellow-throated martens living in the area are not only welcome companions, but are also useful indicators of bad weather.

The station is the only one on Yushan, and the martens provide enjoyable company for staffers living in the remote region, a staffer surnamed Hsieh (謝) said.

The average workday is from 5am to 9pm, with staffers focused on gathering meteorological data and making forecasts, Hsieh said.

During winter, workers at the station are expected to brave the inclement weather and low temperatures of about 5°C to 6°C to ensure that all equipment are properly calibrated.

Station staff first noticed the martens about a decade ago, when they saw one for the time, said Hsieh, who has been working at the station for more than 20 years.

Martens are believed to live in mountainous areas below 3,000m, which is why staffers thought the one they saw got lost chasing its prey and wandered near the station 3,850m above sea level, Hsieh said.

Martens have apparently settled in the woods near the station, but staffers usually only see one at a time, Hsieh said, adding that it is rare to see more than two outside of the mating season.

The actual population of martens on Yushan’s North Peak has yet to be recorded, Hsieh said.

The yellow-throated marten is endemic to Taiwan and is listed as a protected species by the Council of Agriculture.

There is little information on martens, which, by nature, shy away from humans, Hsieh said.

However, they do not seem to be shy in front of Hsieh, who has taken pictures of the animals in various poses during his spare time.

Hsieh said the martens probably know he does not pose a danger to them.

Not only are the martens welcome neighbors, staffers said that their presence — or rather their absence — is often a good indicator of inclement weather, Hsieh said.

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