Farmers turn to gunfire to save crops

By Tsai Tsung-hsien  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Mar 20, 2018 - Page 4

Aboriginal hunters have been recruited by farmers in Pingtung County’s Manjhou Township (滿州) to scare away monkeys eating their crops by firing rifles, but at least one environmentalist has questioned the appropriateness of the effort.

Manjhou Township Mayor Yu Tseng-chun (余增春) joined hunters Pan Jung-fu (潘榮富) and Fu Jen-yi (傅仁義) on Friday when they shot over a black soybean field that has been plagued by monkeys to highlight the establishment of a 25-member team of “field guardians.”

They only plan to drive away monkeys with the sound of gunfire, not to kill them, Yu said.

The township office on Friday asked Pingtung County Police Bureau and Kenting National Park Administration officials to discuss the legality of the program.

While the National Park Act (國家公園法) bans hunting in national parks, the ministry in 2015 said that wildlife may be hunted or killed under certain circumstances, such as when they damage crops, administration section chief Hsu Mao-ching (徐茂敬) said, citing Article 21 of the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法).

However, gun usage is not governed by the park agency, he added.

The conservation act does not prohibit gun use, but if people want to set up “guardian teams,” the prospective members should file an application with the county government to establish the group and explain its purpose, police said.

Farmers who use hunting rifles to drive away invading monkeys are advised to keep video footage of their actions as well as inform the county’s Department of Agriculture, which can help protect them from possible legal problems, police said.

However, Lin Mei-mei (林美美), a spokesperson for a Formosan rock macaques watch group, said that while the farmers’ concern is understandable, killing or removing wild monkeys might not resolve their problems, as other animals might also eat their crops.

People should contemplate whether they really want to continue reducing wildlife numbers until there are no animals left that might affect their interests, Lin said.

Farmers should use methods that are more animal-friendly, such as electric fences and netting that can keep monkeys out, which the Forestry Bureau subsidizes, Lin added.