Feeding wild animals in Taipei’s parks would be prohibited from June 1, with offenders to face fines of NT$1,200 to NT$6,000, the Taipei City Government said.
The frequent feeding of squirrels and pigeons has disrupted the ecological balance and food chain in the city’s parks, but many people continue to feed them even after being asked to stop, the Taipei Parks and Street Lights Office said.
The firefly restoration ecological pond in Taipei’s Daan Forest Park is being invaded by an exotic species, the many-rayed sailfin sucker catfish, while Neihu District’s (內湖) Bihu Park is being invaded by the invasive marbled crayfish, causing ecological balance issues, the office said.
Taipei Youth Park Management Office Director Wang Shu-ya (王淑雅) said that people often feed squirrels in Daan Forest Park, and the squirrels have become accustomed to eating human food, which can affect their digestive systems.
The squirrels also become less willing to find their own food, leading some to strip the bark from trees to eat, which can cause fungal infections in the tree, she said.
Sometimes, park security guards are scolded by people they tell to stop feeding squirrels, she added.
Another problem is photographers putting food out to lure wild birds into the open to get a shot of them, the Parks and Street Lights Office said.
Although feeding wild animals was not prohibited, park security usually try to persuade people to stop when they see it occur, it said.
However, the office is to start making announcements and giving out flyers urging people to stop feeding wild animals in parks, it said, adding that borough offices and related agencies would be informed of the policy.
Starting from June 1, people who feed wild animals in the city’s parks and refuse to stop after being asked to by park security will face fines from NT$1,200 to NT$6,000, the office said.
If an offender refuses to provide identifying information, park security can contact local police to issue a ticket, it said.
People can also record the behavior as evidence and report it to the office or park security, so that they can handle the issue, but no cash reward would be given for reporting feeding incidents, Wang said.
According to the Wildlife Protection Act (野生動物保育法), wild animals are any animals living in a natural habitat, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects and others, so they cannot be fed in the parks, she said.
However, feeding stray dogs and cats would not be considered feeding wild animals, so people who feed them would be fined, she added.
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