Today (February 12) at 7 a.m., the bear cub Mulas was finally returned to Guangyuan Village in Haiduan Township, Taitung County, where it had been originally found. Accompanied by the Forest District Office, a veterinarian, and caregivers, it successfully entered the Longquan Wildlife Rehabilitation Ground, located in Taitung's Haiduan Township. There, the bear cub will be subject to a series of rehabilitation courses over a period of three months that will teach it to adapt to the wild environment. If it all goes well, it is expected that Mulas will be able to return to the forest environment to start a new "bear life" in mid-May.
Two bear cubs were taken into Taitung's emergency wildlife rescue shelter in the second half of 2019. Due to the lack of field care and wildlife rehabilitation facilities in eastern Taiwan, the Forest District Office began the construction of the rehabilitation ground after considering the space needed for care and rehabilitation. To prevent construction from disrupting the bear cubs, the cubs were temporarily moved to the Low Altitude Experimental Station of the Endemic Species Research Institute for short-term care last October. However, during a health checkup in January this year, Litu, a male cub two months older than Mulas, escaped. After trapping and capture were unsuccessful, a large number of personnel were dispatched for overground search and technological instruments for tracking and aerial survey were used, but neither found any trace of Litu. It was determined that the bear cub had very likely entered the nearby mountain forests, and the search continued until the seventh of this month.
After receiving attentive care, Mulas has reached a weight of 33.5 kg and is in good health. On January 2, the care-giving team fitted Mulas with a radio transmitter and released it into the wildlife rehabilitation ground of the Low Altitude Experimental Station. Mulas explored the wild forest environment and searched for food, meaning that it has adapted very well to its new environment. The caregivers also observed that it would actively hunt and eat small mammals (Formosan hare) in the wildlife rehabilitation ground, showing that Mulas has the ability to actively hunt for itself. The Longquan Wildlife Rehabilitation Ground in Taitung has been completed. After professional evaluation and discussion, the Taitung Forest District Office decided to move Mulas to Taitung for rehabilitation in order to allow the bear cub to train in a wild environment that is closest to its original habitat.
Longquan Wildlife Rehabilitation Ground, covering an area of about 0.32 hectares, was completed in three months. The fence of the rehabilitation ground was welded together from 63 pieces of 4.5 mm-thick stainless steel plates, for a total length of 376 meters. The interior of the rehabilitation ground is a natural broadleaved forest, mainly comprised of trees in the Lauraceae and Fagaceae families. In order to increase the diversity of the rehabilitation habitat, a drinking water pool and two small flat areas were specially established. In addition, in order to increase the cub's wild food sources, ring-cupped oak (Quercus glauca), three-cupule oak (Quercus ternaticupula), Indian chestnut (Castanopsis Indica), and Konishii Tanoak (Quercus konishii Hayata) have also been planted in the rehabilitation habitat. Native flowering and fruiting plants such as rose myrtle (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa), orange jessamine (Murraya paniculata), Kurogane Holly (Ilex rotunda), shoebutton ardisia (Ardisia elliptica), and ardisia-leaved photinia (Photinia ardisifolia Hayata) have also been planted on the outskirts of the rehabilitation ground. In addition to increasing ground plant coverage, these fruits are wild foods foraged by Formosan black bears.
Nighttime was selected to carry out the entire transfer operation since it would allow for the least disruption. The transport vehicle departed from the Low Altitude Experimental Station of the Endemic Species Research Institute at Taichung's Wushikeng at midnight on the eleventh. Diet adjustments and health assessment were carried out by the veterinarian and caregivers before departure. Mulas was accompanied for the entire journey by designated personnel to ensure its comfort and safety on the way back to Longquan Wildlife Rehabilitation Ground in Taitung.
Liu Chiung-Lien, director of the Taitung Forest District Office, said that with the efforts of various professionals and staff over half a year, Mulas has finally returned to Haiduan Township in Taitung County, where it was originally found, and that the bear cub will be receiving rehabilitation before returning to the wild. It is hoped that Mulas can successfully learn the many wilderness survival skills that will enable it to face the challenges of the wild.