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Summer Bears Roam: Leave No Trace in the Forest

2023-06-21
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Yushan National Park, renowned for its rich and unique alpine natural environment, covers a vast area with an elevation gradient ranging from 300 meters to the towering 3,952-meter peak of Mt. Jade Main Peak, making it one of the most biodiverse and habitat-rich protected areas for wildlife resources in Taiwan. It is also home to the critically endangered Formosan Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus formosanus), which exhibits relatively high population density and genetic diversity. Through extensive research, it is estimated that nearly 300 Taiwanese black bears are residing within Yushan National Park, representing a significant core population for the entire island. Yushan National Park plays a crucial role as a habitat for this species.
As summer approaches, Yushan National Park Headquarters (referred to as the Headquarters) has received sporadic reports from visitors regarding sightings of Formosan Black Bears in the vicinity of the Yushan Main Peak Trail and the Walami Trail. From the end of last year (2022) to May of this year, traces of Formosan Black Bears activities have been observed along the Southern Cross-Island Highway and the Yushan Main Peak Trail.
Hiking and Recreation Together, Practicing Leave No Trace and Reporting Together
When encountering a Taiwanese black bear on mountain trails or roads, how should you respond? Here are our recommendations: Upon entering the park, (1) To avoid conflicts between humans and bears, if you spot a black bear in the distance, please do not disturb it. Remain calm and leave the area promptly. Avoid screaming or engaging in exaggerated behavior; (2) When ascending the mountain, carry bear bells or whistles to create noise and travel with companions; (3) Properly store and secure your food to prevent odors from attracting bears. Practice the “Leave No Trace” principle by carrying your own trash and food waste off the mountain, minimizing the opportunity for black bears or other wildlife to scavenge and disrupt their natural behavior; (4) Pets are strictly prohibited from entering the mountainous areas to reduce the risk of transmitting diseases between humans and animals and ensure the safety of visitors’ lives; (5) If you encounter a black bear or come across related signs while hiking on the trails within Yushan National Park, please report it to us or submit an online report through the Headquarters’ official website (Path: Index/Ecological Protection/Black Bear/Notification of black bear; website: https://www.ysnp.gov.tw/En/StaticPage/CircularEn).
Yushan, the Land of Bears, Relies on Everyone’s Collective Care
The Headquarters has been actively organizing conservation awareness lectures on wildlife and the ecological environment in recent years. Through educational explanations and experiential activities, we aim to promote our conservation philosophy regarding wildlife and habitat preservation. Since 2022, we have conducted intermittent black bear interpretation activities in various areas, including the Tataka Datieshan (Gigantic Hemlock) in Xinyi Township, Nantou County, the entrance of the Walami Trail in Hualien, the Meishan Visitor Center in Taoyuan District, Kaohsiung City, and the Walami Trail in Zhuoxi Township, Hualien County.
When hiking and exploring Yushan, visitors are encouraged to visit the visitor centers or trail sites within Yushan National Park and participate in our black bear interpretation sessions. Through these sessions, participants can gain insights into the Formosan Black Bear species and learn appropriate countermeasures for human-bear encounters. Additionally, the Headquarters has recently produced a bilingual 5-minute short film titled “The Miraculous Journey of Bear Daubas” (https://youtu.be/mQCF-3hQOEM) which highlights the ecological habits of Formosan Black Bears and provides guidance on encountering bears during mountain climbing. The film utilizes a narrative style and anthropomorphized illustrations of black bears to present the lively characteristics of Formosan Black Bears, emphasizing their ecological habits, features as members of the bear family, as well as the importance of ecological conservation, leaving no trace in the wilderness, and ensuring mountain climbing safety. For more detailed information about the film, please refer to the link provided (https://youtu.be/mQCF-3hQOEM). To learn more about Formosan Black Bears, please visit our official website: Yushan National Park homepage>Ecological Protection>Black Bear (https://www.ysnp.gov.tw/En/Folder/BearEn) and explore our fan page. Let us join hands in preserving the precious environment of Yushan, our bear-inhabited land!