Officials seized 20 illegal animal snares and three ivory products in Taipei and Kaohsiung in a two-week nationwide sweep, the Forestry Bureau said yesterday, adding that the sale of all ivory products would be banned from January next year.
A task force comprised of officials from the bureau, local governments and the National Police Agency from July 1 to Sunday inspected 447 stores selling animals, wild foods, hardware and agricultural equipment.
Officials looked for illegally hunted or traded animals after the bureau on Jan. 9 revised its list of protected land species, bureau Conservation Division Director Hsia Jung-sheng (夏榮生) said.
Photo: Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times, courtesy of the Forestry Bureau
Officials also cracked down on the unlawful use of snares, she said.
Several stores in Taipei and Kaohsiung were found to be illegally selling snares, the bureau said.
The Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) bans the production, sales, exhibition, and import and export of animal snares without government approval. Those who contravene the law could face a fine of NT$15,000 to NT$75,000 (US$483 and US$2,414).
Using snares to catch wild animals is also prohibited, unless they are used by farmers to catch animals that are damaging crops or by Aborigines hunting animals for traditional rituals, Hsia said, adding that both groups have to obtain prior government approval.
Those convicted of illegally using snares could face a prison term of six months to five years or a fine of NT$200,000 to NT$1 million under the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法), the bureau said.
The number of snares removed by forest rangers dropped from 3,099 in 2011 to 299 last year, bureau data showed.
A store in Taipei was found to be illegally selling three ivory products not listed by the bureau, which in 1995 compiled an inventory of 220,000 ivory products in stock that can be sold until the end of this year, Hsia said.
As of January, the sale of all ivory products — regardless of whether they are included in the list or not — would be banned, she said.
Those who illegally sell ivory products would face a jail term of six months to five years and a fine of NT$300,000 and NT$1.5 million, she added.
Officials also discovered a bird shop in Keelung that sold a Japanese white-eye, and an aquarium in Taipei that kept a protected pitted-shelled turtle, Hsia said.
Three Taipei residents were found to be keeping protected yellow-margined box turtles and a yellow pond turtle without registration, she said.
Many cases of illegal treatment of wildlife were reported by members of the public, showing that general awareness about animal conservation has improved, Hsia added.
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