People should not take in or feed wild birds found outside, as doing so could incur fines or prison terms, the Changhua District Prosecutors’ Office has said.
A man surnamed Chiu (邱) was on April 21 given a deferred sentence of 15 days in a case that stems from January 2019, the office said.
Chiu, 73, was found guilty of contravening the Wildlife Protection Act (野生動物保育法), after he took in three Taiwan hwameis — two that were given to him by a friend in January, and one that he captured in December that year.
Photo courtesy of Hsieh Wen-yu
After receiving an anonymous report about the birds in December 2019, police confiscated the animals and prosecutors filed charges against Chiu.
The Taiwan hwamei is listed by the government as a class-2 protected exotic species.
The confiscated birds were handed over to the Changhua County Department of Agriculture.
Photo courtesy of the Dongshih Forestry Culture Park administration
The birds have since been released back into the wild, said Su Chi-huai (蘇啟懷), the head of the department’s wildlife-conservation section.
People should avoid disturbing animals in the wild, and if an animal enters their home, they should try to remove it without causing any injury, Su said.
“People like to keep these birds at home or in their garden, because their singing is very alluring. They put blankets over the cage so they do not get agitated,” he said.
“There are also people who sell them — generally for NT$700 to NT$1,000 each — but this is harmful to the ecosystem,” he added.
The hwamei is endemic to Taiwan and is usually found in mountainous areas less than 1,000m above sea level. They are easily captured due to their poor flight ability.
There are fewer than 10,000 of them in the wild.
In related news, a man was fined NT$15,000 after feeding a Swinhoe’s pheasant, also known as the Taiwan blue pheasant, in Taichung’s Dongshih District (東勢).
Dongshi Forestry Culture Park administrators said they hoped the case would serve as a reminder to the public that feeding wild animals is prohibited, as it could damage the ecosystem.
Administrators at the nearby Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area (大雪山森林遊樂區) said that despite there being numerous signs throughout the park to remind the public not to feed wild animals, they often find people trying to lure birds or other animals with food.
The area is one of the best in the nation for birdwatching and the public is invited to visit and enjoy nature, they said.
“However, it is important for people to respect nature when visiting the forest. That means no scaring, no luring, no chasing and no capturing animals, and no harming their habitat,” the administrators said.
Additional reporting by Ou Su-mei
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