Police are investigating the death of a Formosan black bear discovered on Tuesday buried near an industrial road in Nantou County, with initial evidence indicating that it was shot accidentally by a hunter.
The bear had been caught in wildlife traps at least five times before, three times since 2020.
Codenamed No. 711, the bear received extensive media coverage last year after it was discovered trapped twice in less than two months in the Taichung mountains.
Photo courtesy of the Forestry Bureau
After its most recent ensnarement last month, the bear was released in the Dandashan (丹大山) area in Nantou County’s Sinyi Township (信義).
However, officials became concerned after the tracking device stopped working on Friday last week after the bear had moved toward the Wujie (武界) community, and informed Fajhih Village (法治) Warden Yeh A-lang (葉阿良) that it might encroach on inhabited lands.
Yeh on Friday and Saturday made loudspeaker announcements informing residents to remain alert and retrieve food and traps.
On Tuesday, Forestry Bureau officials discovered the bear’s remains buried in a creek valley about 100m from an industrial road in Wujie, with serious injuries on its head and chest, and no tracking collar.
Chinese-language media also reported finding a small hunting shack about 100m away.
The remains have been sent to the Council of Agriculture’s National Institute for Animal Health for an autopsy to determine the cause of death, the bureau said.
Police have been asked to investigate, although they are likely to be challenged by a lack of security cameras or passersby on the remote road.
One local hunter told reporters that fellow hunters often ride scooters along remote roads at night looking for prey, since the headlights illuminate their eyes.
This means that hunters usually do not know what they shot until afterward, and even sometimes hit other hunters, he said, adding that some illegal loggers have even been killed this way.
He said he suspects the bear was killed by mistake and buried to hide the evidence, and its tracker removed and destroyed, as turning it in would implicate the hunter in an illegal act.
The bureau said in a statement on Tuesday that GPS tracking showed no movement from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning last week, at which point the bear appeared to suddenly start moving toward Wujie before it stopped transmitting.
The bureau asks anyone with a lead to contact police at 049-277-5110 or the bureau at its 24-hour hotline, 0800-000-930. A reward of up to NT$200,000 is offered for evidence leading to an arrest, it said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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