Mon, Dec 17, 2018 - Page 2 News List

Bear cub sent to forest for training prior to release

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Veterinarians at the Endemic Species Research Institute in Nantou County on Dec. 6 examine a Formosan black bear cub found in Hualien County’s Jhuosi Township.

Photo: CNA

A Formosan black bear cub found alone in Hualien County in July has been sent to a forest area for skills training, bringing it a step closer to its release into its natural habitat next year, the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau said yesterday.

The cub was on July 10 found walking alone near Nanan Waterfall (南安瀑布) in Hualien County’s Jhuosi Township (卓溪) when it was about three or fourth months old, the bureau said.

As the cub’s mother did not show up and it was found to be undernourished, the bureau in August sent the cub to the council’s Endemic Species Research Institute in Nantou County.

On Dec. 6, institute veterinarians examined the cub and found that it was 112cm tall and 27.5kg, up from 102cm and 21.3kg on Oct. 23.

They placed a radio transmitter on the cub and moved it to the institute’s forest enclosure for wildlife training, where it has been learning how to hunt for food and avoid natural enemies, the bureau said.

The cub’s rescue and release involved the efforts of the council, police officials, the Taipei Zoo, the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association and experts from National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (NPUST), National Taiwan University and National Taiwan Normal University, the bureau said.

As one of the cub’s caregivers, the association last month started raising funds for preparations to release it, conservation documents and follow-up tracking of its adaptation in the wild.

The association used crowdfunding instead of raising funds from a few wealthy people to engage more people in the release project and boost public awareness of wildlife conservation, association founder and NPUST associate professor Hwang Mei-hsiu (黃美秀) wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

Hwang has been nicknamed “Bear Mother” for her long-term involvement in bear conservation.

The association had hoped to raise NT$3 million (US$97,094) by 10am today, but it had raised more than NT$4.3 million as of 4pm yesterday.

Funding for the cub’s care is not entirely covered by the association, given that many agencies have made contributions, a valuable experience that can help improve rescue work for large animals, bureau Conservation Division head Hsia Jung-sheng (夏榮生) said.

The cub might be released in April or May, when it is one year old and more food is available in its natural habitat, Hsia said, but added that scenarios need to be carefully evaluated by experts.

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