Kaohsiung, April 10 (CNA) The growing population of Formosan macaques in Kaohsiung may soon pay the price for harassing hikers, attacking people, and stealing offerings at local temples, with city authorities ready to put some of the animals behind bars.
Kaohsiung's Agriculture Bureau has generally taken a hands-off approach to the 1,000 protected monkeys that roam the hills of the city's Gushan District, preferring to implore people not to feed them and implanting chips in the animals to control their numbers.
But those efforts have done little to restrain the monkeys' aggressive behavior, Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Cheng-wen complained at a council hearing Monday, and he said stronger action was needed.
Agriculture Department officials acknowledged the problem and pledged to take tougher action, to the point of locking up the worst offenders among the Formosan macaque population.
Chen said the monkeys continue to be a major headache, most recently disturbing Tomb Sweeping Day rituals. Many families made offerings at temples at the foot of Shoushan (Shou Mountain), where the monkeys congregate, only to have them become the targets of the animals.
The temples had to constantly remind people to close doors to avoid having their food offerings stolen, Chen said.
Students at National Sun Yat-Sen University at the foot of the mountain have long complained that the monkeys eat their snacks and instant noodles and run riot in their rooms, forcing them to keep their doors and windows shut.
Local farmers have also fallen victim to the macaques, which ravage fruit trees and crops, Chen said.
The city councilor recommended that aside from locking up the mischievous creatures, the Agriculture Department should strengthen the protection of the local environment to encourage the wild animals to remain in their habitats rather than intrude on human communities.
(By Wang Shwu-fen and Nell Shen)