TAIPEI (CNA) — A Formosan black bear cub that was rescued last year, tagged and released back into the wild in April can no longer be tracked, the Hualien Forest District Office confirmed Saturday.
The tracking collar, which was designed to fall off after two years, was found on the side of a cliff in June, the office said, confirming reports that it had lost track of the bear cub.
The cub was rescued in July 2018 by the forest office after it was spotted alone near Nan’an Waterfall in Hualien County by a hiker, who reported that the animal appeared malnourished, according to the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association (TBBCA).
At the time, the cub was about four months old and weighed only 5 kilograms, the TBBCA said.
After a year of care by the forest office, the bear was deemed well enough to be released back into the wild, and conservationists and enthusiasts have since been discussing its wellbeing in online forums.
With no information from the forest office in recent weeks, however, they became concerned and started asking questions about the bear.
The Hualien Forest District Office told CNA that while it has lost track of the black bear, there have been no reports of unusual activities or occurrences in the area where it was released.
The office said it has been carrying out routine patrols, stepping up efforts to remove leg traps in the area and working to raise awareness among local indigenous tribes of the protection of Formosan black bears.
The TBBCA, meanwhile, said the cub is most likely safe. “It’s probably just hiding,” the association said.
However, Chung Jung-feng (鍾榮峰), a black bear observer, told CNA that based on knowledge he has acquired, he thinks the bear’s chances of survival are low.
By Tyson Lu and Chung Yu-chen