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Formosan black bear sightings reported in Taiwan's Yushan National Park

Authorities urge hikers not to leave behind trash, leftover food

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A Formosan black bear is caught on an infrared camera set up by the Forestry Bureau. (Forestry Bureau Hualien office photo)

A Formosan black bear is caught on an infrared camera set up by the Forestry Bureau. (Forestry Bureau Hualien office photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After receiving several reports of Formosan black bear sightings this month, Yushan National Park Headquarters has urged hikers and visitors to exercise caution and respect the environment.

In a Facebook post, the headquarters shared that a ranger stationed at the Tataka Visitor Center had spotted a bear on April 7 while on patrol. The bear was some distance away from the Patounkua Trail, according to video footage shot by the ranger.

On both April 11 and Monday (April 18), a bear was caught on infrared cameras set up by the Hualien office of the Forestry Bureau. The Liberty Times reported that there have been at least six reports of bear sightings between April 4 and 18.

The frequency of the sightings is consistent with the park headquarters’ long-term research and observation data, which shows that the Formosan black bear is usually very active between February and May. The headquarters wrote that visitors should be extra careful in Yushan National Park as the bears become more active around late winter and early spring and may appear on trails or roads.

During this season, visitors should travel in groups and carry bear bells or whistles to make noise. Those carrying food should make sure to seal it in containers to keep from attracting bears with the scent. When leaving the mountains, they should carry any trash or leftover food away with them.

In the event of a bear encounter, visitors should remain calm and leave the scene as quietly and quickly as possible. The headquarters also encouraged visitors to report any bears or bear tracks they see.

The Liberty Times cited the headquarters as saying that in winter, the Formosan black bear usually can be found on the east side of the park, feeding on ring-cupped oak acorns. In spring, the bears venture to lower altitudes where they search for other foods such as berries.

According to the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association (TBBCA), Formosan black bears are solitary animals that roam widely and do not build dens in fixed locations. They do not hibernate and are active mostly during the day but also at night.

The endangered bears are estimated to number between 200 and 600 in the wild. Based on sighting records, the TBBCA believes they can be found throughout the entire Central Mountain Range area as well as in an extremely small area near the border between Hualien and Taitung counties.