An investigation uncovered six shops in Pingtung County that had 410 steel-jaw animal traps for sale, despite the traps having been banned nine years ago, the county’s Department of Agriculture said last week.
Over the past several months, surprise inspections of 48 local hardware stores found that six had the traps for sale, the agency said, adding that it has fined the six shops.
While most of the traps were smaller, 19 were 10cm in diameter, it added.
Some farmers set traps to keep wild animals out of their crops, it said, adding that macaques, civets and wild boars are often targeted.
“The danger of the traps is that they cannot accurately target a specific animal, and they often end up harming or killing wild animals that are not a threat to farms,” it said.
Cage traps work better for rodents, the agency said, adding that the Forestry Bureau can provide farmers with electric fencing to protect crops from macaques.
People who sell, manufacture, display or export steel-jaw traps can be fined up to NT$75,000 (US$2,603), while repeat offenders can be sentenced for up to two years in prison, the agency said.
Those causing death or loss of limb to an animal from a steel-jaw trap can be fined up to NT$2 million and face up to two years in prison, it said.
Steel-jaw traps are not usually displayed at stores that offer them; they sell them to customers who ask, the agency said.
“We can try to deter shops from selling steel-jaw traps with heavy fines, but we must simultaneously educate the public and fine those who use the traps,” it said.
The agency said that it has tried to combat the use of the traps through public awareness campaigns, including public service announcements on TV, posts on the Line messaging app and banners displayed in Aboriginal communities.
However, the agency must also rely on help from the public, it said, adding that it is inviting members of the public who discover the use, sale or manufacture of steel-jaw traps to call the Pingtung County Department of Agriculture at (08) 765-3860.
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