The number of boars raiding the streets of Hong Kong has increased in recent years, driving controversy between authorities trying to regulate the population of wild pigs and animal lovers who protest against their extermination.
On November 12, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong announced that it would regularly hunt for wild boars in order to reduce their number and nuisance.
But instead of relocating the boars to mountainous areas and sterilizing them, the administration now kills the wild pigs.
As the boars settle in the streets of Hong Kong, officials want to be stricter on no-feeding areas as they blame the people who feed wild animals.
The number of incidents with wild pigs in Hong Kong increased according to official data. In the last three years, 10 injuries were reported among the population compared to 1 injury case per year during the previous seven years, the AFCD reports.
In 2017, Hong Kong started to capture and relocate wild pigs away from residential areas. But as the number of nuisance reports increased recently – about 1,000 reports in 2019 or 2020 – Hong Kong authorities have decided to try to reduce its population more drastically.
A video posted online would show a harmless but frightened piglet in the subway in June. But in November, a wild boar attacked and bit a police officer after being cornered.
A petition to withdraw Hong Kong’s urban wild boar killing orders
This led the AFCD to change gears and increase their hunts around 60 spots in Hong Kong where dozens of pigs would be used to wander to find food.
In order to get rid of the wild boars, they bait them with bread and use dart guns with anesthetics for humane dispatch.
But the announcement from the Hong Kong authorities made several citizens and local animal lover groups angry.
On November 15, the publication HK animal post and the Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group joined veterinary students in sending an open letter to Hong Kong officials asking to stop the extermination of boars. On November 23, 417 people affiliated with the veterinary field openly signed the letter.
The letter mentioned that 60,000 people signed a petition against killing innocent wild animals.
The groups ask for the rehabilitation of sterilization campaigns, conducted between 2018 and 2021. They also consider that 10 incidents a year – Hong Kong is home to 7.7 million people – don’t require such definitive measures targeting the animals.
According to the director of the AFCD, they captured 800 wild boars and sterilized about 450 of them in the last four years. But he defended the new measures were necessary to limit the fast breeding of boars.
Both authorities and animal-support groups agree that Hong Kong citizens should stop feeding wild animals.