The Ministry of the Interior and NextTV (壹電視) have drawn flak from conservationists after the TV station broadcast exclusive footage of a Formosan black bear cub’s release into the wild.
The cub was found in July last year wandering alone near the Nanan Waterfall (南安瀑布) in Hualien County’s Jhuosi Township (卓溪). It was about three to four months old at the time.
The Forestry Bureau commissioned the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association to treat and train the cub before releasing it back into the wild.
Photo courtesy of the Forestry Bureau
The association posted regular updates about the cub’s growth, which attracted many followers online.
On Tuesday, the cub — named Buni by the Bunun community in Jhuosi — was taken onboard a helicopter piloted by members of the ministry’s National Airborne Service Corps.
While the area where the cub was released was kept a secret to protect it from harassment or hunters, NextTV on Wednesday broadcast footage of its transportation from its shelter in the Endemic Species Research Institute’s station in Taichung to its release in Hualien.
On Thursday, association member Hwang Mei-hsiu (黃美秀), known as “Bear Mother,” wrote on Facebook that she had been informed on Monday that two television reporters were to accompany them on the helicopter to shoot footage of a ministry program — but not about the cub.
It turned out to be a scam, as NextTV’s “exclusive” footage divulged the bear’s location, despite people’s efforts to keep it confidential, she wrote.
Hwang urged reporters to regulate themselves and not release any more reports about the bear’s location.
NextTV anchorwoman Chen Ya-lin (陳雅琳), one of the TV crew on the helicopter, apologized for causing a disturbance, but said that the station only filmed the helicopter’s departure and landing, and did not reveal the location deep in the mountains where the cub was released.
Chen said that NextTV had withdrawn the footage.
It could still be seen on Yahoo TV yesterday.
The station has provided sufficient details about the bear’s possible activity area, bureau Conservation Division Director Hsia Jung-sheng (夏榮生) said yesterday, adding that she had told the ministry that reporters should not be allowed on the trip.
Despite the controversy, the association continues to track the cub’s movement with a satellite transmitter, and the bureau would work with local Aborigines to patrol the forest where Buni was released, Hsia said.
Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) apologized on Thursday and again yesterday for the National Airborne Service Corps’ oversight in arranging the media visit, which was meant to introduce the corps’ performance of its duties.
The ministry has learned a lesson from the incident and would increase its wildlife conservation measures, Hsu added.
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