Sun, Dec 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Police suspect man professionally bred box turtles

By Hua Meng-ching and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Endangered Chinese box turtles are pictured on Wednesday after they were found at a Hualien County house.

Photo provided by the Seventh Special Police Corps of the National Police Agency’s Seventh Division

The National Police Agency’s Seventh Special Police Corps has forwarded a case of alleged illegal breeding of grade-two endangered species to prosecutors, citing the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法).

The corps on Wednesday said it received a tip about a man surnamed Chiang (江) in Hualien County’s Guangfu Township (光復), and found a locked house on private property.

The officer leading the check applied for a warrant to enter the premises, saying that something “felt suspicious” and citing his two decades of experience as a police officer.

When the officers, accompanied by officials from the Forestry Bureau’s Hualien branch, on Monday entered the premises, they found 79 Chinese box turtles, the corps said.

The turtle is on the conservation list, as it is among the most poached wildlife species worldwide, the corps said, adding that the turtles were hiding in earthen and twig mounds or placed inside an abandoned deer shed.

The bureau officials said they were surprised that Chiang had created a professional breeding setup, with safe spots for the turtles and earth for them to burrow in and lay eggs in.

Chiang was quoted as saying that he started keeping turtles more than a decade ago.

“I was quite moved to see the turtles being captured and sold to China, and started raising them for fear that they would go extinct,” Chiang was quoted as saying, adding that he was passionate about Chinese box turtle conservation.

The corps officers said no tools that could be used to capture turtles were found on the premises, nor were there any documents to counter Chiang’s claims.

However, the corps nonetheless forwarded the case to prosecutors, citing a suspected violation of the law.

The officers said they doubted Chiang’s claims, as the population of turtles on site pointed to a professional breeding operation.

The corps called on the public to contact it if they have any tips and to report any illegal breeding of Chinese box turtles to the Forestry Bureau’s Hualien branch office.

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