TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A pair of leopard cats, a mother and cub, was discovered dead on the roadside in Miaoli County, Friday morning (Aug. 23).
Sadly, the death of the two cats marks three Taiwan leopard cats killed in Miaoli County within a 48-hour period and four within a single week. So far, 18 leopard cats have been killed on the roads of Miaoli County this year.
CNA reports that the mother was crossing Taiwan’s mountain road No. 13 on the evening of Thursday (Aug. 22), carrying her cub in her jaws, when the cats were struck by a car.
The previous night (Aug. 21), an adult male was struck and killed by a car on Miaoli County Highway No. 140. The incident was quickly reported, and an official from the Miaoli County Agricultural Office was able to take sperm samples from the cat to aid in future breeding programs.
Just three days earlier, on the morning of Aug. 18, the body of a young leopard cat was reported and photographed on the roadside of Provincial Highway 61 along the coast, presumably hit on the evening of Aug. 17. After the incident had been reported, someone moved the body before government workers could investigate, reports the Liberty Times.
UDN reports that Miaoli county has seen a concerning spike in leopard cat deaths this year. Since the government began keeping records on these events, Miaoli has averaged between eight and ten leopard cat deaths per year. Roadside leopard cat deaths in 2019 are already double the yearly average.
In the period between Nov. 6, 2011 and June 20, 2019, there were 77 reported incidents of leopard cats killed on Taiwan’s roads. Of those deaths, 56 occurred in Miaoli County.
In order to protect the region’s leopard cat population, the Miaoli County government drafted the "Miaoli County Leopard Cat Conservation Autonomous Bill" (苗栗縣石虎保育自治條例草案) in 2018. However, the proposal was rejected at the group review stage in June of this year, to the outrage of conservationists.
Proponents of the legislation hope to better safeguard the leopard cat population through greater oversight of development projects and through the implementation of preventative measures along the county’s roadways. To assist in protecting the animals, Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture, in July, approved a trial program that will offer cash incentives for people that assist in protecting cat habitats.