Hong Kong authorities have proposed tougher penalties, including one year of imprisonment, and a city-wide ban on the feeding of wild animals in an attempt to control the wild boar population in Hong Kong.
According to documents recently submitted to the Legislative Council by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the measures include expanding the feeding ban area in the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance to the entire territory of Hong Kong.
The department explained that the existing boundaries of the feeding ban area have been delineated mainly to target wild monkeys with a view to controlling feeding activities for monkeys in countryside areas.
The existing feeding ban area only covers the Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks, part of the Tai Mo Shan Country Park, part of the Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, the Caldecott Road area near Tai Po Road, and the Piper’s Hill section of Tai Po Road.
“Therefore, many feeding black spots of wild pigs in urban areas are not covered by the existing feeding ban area,” it said.
The department is also proposing increasing the maximum penalty for the illegal feeding of wild animals to a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,745) and up to one year of imprisonment.
Currently, the ordinance stipulates that the maximum penalty is a fine of HK$10,000. However, the penalty actually imposed on conviction precedents in recent years averages below HK$1,000.
“To completely curb feeding activities, [an] increase in [the] penalty to enhance the deterrent effect is indispensable,” the document read.
In addition, the department will also introduce a fixed penalty of HK$5,000 for illegal wild animal feeding in the feeding ban area.
It said the introduction of a fixed penalty can standardize and allow swift handling of relatively straightforward illegal wild animal feeding cases through the immediate issuance of fixed penalty tickets to offenders.
The department said it will consult relevant stakeholders in due course with a view to submitting the relevant legislative amendment proposals as soon as possible.
The wild boar population in urban areas of Hong Kong has increased rapidly in recent years caused in part by the feeding by humans, which led to the pigs seeking food in improperly disposed of garbage.
The number of victims who suffered injuries caused by wild boars has increased from two in the whole of 2013 to 25 in just the first five months of this year.
To tackle the issue, wildlife authorities began capturing and putting down wild boars late last year again, restarting a plan they had suspended for years. They said it was necessary after a trap, neuter and return policy was deemed ineffective.
However, animal rights activists and many Hongkongers find such handling measures inhumane.