Clear official guidelines need to be set to distinguish tame from wild animals before extending a ban against feeding wild creatures to the entire SAR next month, legislators say.
The revised law will ban people from feeding wild boar and monkeys but not pigeons. Authorities will, however, include pigeons in an amendment bill.
Speaking in a Legislative Council meeting yesterday, Simon Chan Kin-fung, assistant director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation, said there are 63 black spots where more than five wild boar have gathered and hurt people.
But after an operation that included capturing boars the situation in 34 of the black spots had improved, Chan said.
Expanding the feeding ban area [from a few country parks] to the entire SAR is necessary because the wild boar nuisance is still serious and many people are feeding them illegally,” Chan said.
Unlike monkeys, which gather mainly at Kam Shan and Shek Mun, wild boar can be found throughout the SAR, Chan added. And “the wild boar nuisance problem cannot be solved by capture if we cannot stop people from feeding them.”
Legislative Council member Steven Ho Chun-yin, who represents the agriculture and fisheries sector, said the AFCD’s definition of “black spots” was not accurate as the department needed to include places near livestock farms.
Wild boars may carry African swine fever – a highly contagious virus that could be contracted by domestic pigs – and if boars carrying the disease went close to farms it could have a devastating effect on livestock, he said.
He therefore urged authorities to include such areas in the official black spot list.
Legco member Chan Hok-Fung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong suggested surveillance cameras be set up at black spots to deter feeding of wild animals.
He also questioned how the authorities could tell whether people were feeding dogs and cats or wild boar.
The AFCD response was that people usually use food bowls for dogs or cats.
Pigeons, meanwhile, have been regarded as tame creatures and people are allowed to feed them. But labor sector Legco member Dennis Leung Tsz-wing said a clear definition was needed on tame.
Many pigeons “attack” people, he said, and gatherings of the birds have affected hygiene.
But pigeons are to be classed as wild in an amendment bill next year.
However, Peter Koon Ho-ming said bans can affect the education of the younger generation.
“We are used to living peacefully with wild animals, and it is a basic principle that all beings are equal,” he said.
“If a wild boar is thin and in a bad health condition what’s wrong if a kind-hearted person wants to feed it?”
He also said a tough ban on feeding pigeons would affect Hong Kong’s image as many foreigners would feed them.