TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Minister of the Interior, Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇), apologized in a Facebook post Thursday evening (May 2) for the Ministry's wrongdoing related to the release of a Formosan black bear on April 30.
A news crew from Next TV (壹電視) was allowed to board the helicopter that carried a Formosan black bear nicknamed “Mei Tsai” (妹仔) to her release site, which was supposed to be kept secret. Next TV’s exclusive news video set off shock waves of anger and confusion.
Last July, Mei Tsai was found wandering alone near Nan’an Waterfall in Hualien County. She was rescued and looked after by a team of conservationists, led by Professor Huang Mei-hsiu (黃美秀).
After nearly a year of care in an enclosure, Mei Tsai recovered well and recently celebrated her first birthday. Rescue workers decided to release her back into the forest and sought help from the National Airborne Service Corps, an agency of the MOI.
The location of the release was meant to be kept secret, as the endemic bear species is listed as “endangered” under Taiwan's Wildlife Conservation Act. Surprisingly, a news crew from Next TV was also on the helicopter that carried Mei Tsai to her release site and filmed along the way.
When Next TV’s exclusive video was aired Wednesday evening (May 1), both the press and the audience were shocked. Next TV responded by removing the video and explaining that they were not there to cover the story of Mei Tsai.
Chen Ya-lin (陳雅琳), the journalist aboard the helicopter, said they were commissioned by the MOI to make a film of the airborne service corps during a mission. The filming was permitted, and they did not reveal the exact location of the release site.
MOI Minister Hsu admitted the news crew was invited to report on the airborne service corps, but they should not have done so at the possible risk of Mei Tsai's safety. It was a wrong decision made by the MOI, said the Minister.