Hong Kong authorities have proposed tougher penalties, including a one-year prison term, and a citywide ban on feeding wild animals in a bid to control Hong Kong’s wild boar population.
According to documents recently submitted to the Legislative Council by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Prefecture, the measures include expanding the no-feeding zone in the Wild Animal Protection Act to the entire territory of Hong Kong.
The administration explained that the current boundaries of the no-feeding zone were demarcated mainly to target wild monkeys with the aim of controlling the feeding activities of monkeys in rural areas.
The current no-feeding zone covers only Kam Shan, Leon Rock and Shing Mun Country Park, part of Tai Mu Shan Country Park, part of Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, Caldecott Road area near Tai Po Road, and Piper Hill section of Tai Po Road.
“Therefore, many urban wild boar feeding black spots are not covered by the current feeding exclusion zone,” she added.
The ministry is also proposing to increase the maximum penalty for illegal feeding of wild animals to a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,745) and imprisonment of up to one year.
Currently, the decree states that the maximum penalty is a fine of HK$10,000. However, the actual penalty imposed for convictions in recent years is on average less than HK$1,000.
“To completely limit feeding activities, [an] increase in [the] Penalty to enhance the deterrent effect is indispensable,” the document stated.
In addition, the department will also apply a fixed fine of HK$5,000 for the illegal feeding of wild animals in the no-feeding zone.
She said the application of a fixed penalty could standardize and allow for the quick handling of relatively straightforward illegal wildlife feeding cases through the immediate issuance of fixed penalty tickets to offenders.
The ministry said it will consult with relevant stakeholders in due course with a view to submitting relevant legislative amendment proposals as soon as possible.
The number of urban wild boars in Hong Kong has increased rapidly in recent years due to human feeding, resulting in pigs improperly searching for food in garbage disposal.
The number of casualties caused by wild boar injuries rose from two in all of 2013 to 25 in just the first five months of this year.
To address this problem, wildlife authorities began capturing and removing wild boars late last year again, resuming a plan they had put on hold for years. They said it was necessary after the trap, neutralize and return policy was deemed ineffective.
However, animal rights activists and many Hong Kong residents find these handling procedures inhumane.