TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwanese conservationists are furious after the Miaoli County Council rejected a bill to protect the endangered leopard cat (石虎) by a vote of 9 to 25, reported Up Media.
In order to protect the leopard cat, the Miaoli County government in 2018 drafted the "Miaoli County Leopard Cat Conservation Autonomous Bill" (苗栗縣石虎保育自治條例草案). However, the proposal was rejected at the group review stage.
This year, the county government invited scholars and experts to discuss and amend some provisions to make the content of the articles more clearly defined. On May 23, the bill passed the committee review stage.
During the second and third readings of the draft on Tuesday (June 4), some of its provisions were relaxed. The new version would only regulate development plans by the county government and would place no restrictions on township work units and manufacturers.
It stipulated that "Only those who exploit or develop more than one hectare of land or widen a road with a length of more than 1,000 meters within the habitat of the leopard cat in Miaoli County, should have to consult with experts on the ecological conservation of leopard cats at the initial planning and construction stages, and adopt environmentally friendly construction methods." Despite this compromise, the bill was still defeated in the Miaoli County Council on Tuesday, with only 9 in favor, 25 opposed, and one abstaining.
In response, the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) issued a statement saying that it was regrettable that the Miaoli County Council has not passed the leopard cat conservation bill, but that it would not give up. Hung Wei-feng (洪維鋒), president of Miaoli Coastal Environment Development Association, said, "These large-scale developments do not bring prosperity to Miaoli, but only destroy the original precious natural environment."