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May 27, 2017

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Protests against Taichung's planned Xueshan gondola

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taichung City's Xueshan-Kukuan gondola project angered numerous conservation groups, who have announced plans to march in the streets of Taichung City on Sunday.

Tsai Chih-hao (蔡智豪), the secretary-general of the Taiwan Academy of Ecology, said in order to build the gondola, construction would do irrevocable damage to the local forests and mountainsides. Tsai said the construction will also harm the habitats of the Formosan Black Bear, further endangering the nearly extinct species; Tsai urged civilians to step forward against the project.

Kuo Yan-ren (郭彥仁), a researcher of the Formosan Black Bear Conservation Association, said the Xueshan gondola would reach an elevation of 2,200 meters, which would disturb the habitat of a batch of wild black bears.

In May, researchers captured surveillance footage of at least five different adult black bears and a mother bear leading her cubs, Kuo said. Formosan black bears are rarely seen in Northern Taiwan, making their appearance in Xueshan even more significant, according to Kuo.

Kuo said that mountain climbers would sometimes walk 200 kilometers into the habitat of the black bears. He also said that after the gondolas are successfully developed, it would slice the black bears' habitat in two, compressing even more of their living space.

Tsai said the final destination of the protest against the Xueshan gondola, which is slated to take place this Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., would be the Taichung City Hall. The protest will begin in the Taichung Public Square. He also finds the Taichung City Government's move to assign Environment Protection Bureau (EPU) staff to accompany the protesters as an act of cooperation to be inappropriate, preferring representatives from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) team because officials from the EPU have no professional ecology background.

Huang Chong-dian (黃崇典), an advisor for the EPU, suggested that the bureau seek advice from the central government on the matter.

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