Sun, Jan 06, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Leopard cat blamed for chicken losses in Nantou

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

A leopard cat suspected of taking chickens from a Nantou County farm is caged on Wednesday after it was captured.

Photo: Hsieh Chieh-yu, Taipei Times

The culprit in the mysterious disappearance of chickens from a farm in Nantou County’s Lugu Township (鹿谷) was reportedly a female leopard cat, the first time the animal has been seen in the region, local residents said.

On Wednesday, a woman surnamed Chen (陳), who owns a chicken farm, said that the declining chicken population on her farm — from 60 to 6 — over the past two years led her to suspect poachers, although the feathers and bones left behind pointed to wild animals.

Chen apprehended the felon and the Council of Agriculture’s Endemic Species Research Institute identified it as a leopard cat, which is a protected species in Taiwan, she said.

The leopard cat, estimated to be one year old, was in good health and only showed signs of a previous injury on its front left paw, ostensibly the result of hunting in the wild, the institute said.

Township representative Kang Chun-yu (康峻瑜) urged residents to step up protective measures at chicken and duck farms.

Harming a leopard cat contravenes the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法), Kang added.

The institute said it has recorded fewer than 500 leopard cats, adding that 21 leopard cats have been injured in claw traps since 1994 and 67 killed by vehicles since 2011.

The data highlight the challenges to leopard cats’ survival in the wild, the institute said.

Nantou is considered a leopard cat habitat, with the biggest populations in Jiji (集集) and Jhongliao (中寮) townships, it said.

It said it would collaborate with the Forestry Bureau’s branch office in Nantou this year to survey the leopard cat population in the county.

The survey would cover the area from Lugu (鹿谷) to Jhushan (竹山) townships in the south up to Guosing Township (國姓) and the mountainous areas around Caotun Township (草屯) in the north, the institute said.

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