Following is a question by the Hon Lau Wong-fat and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (December 17):
It is learnt that in recent years there were a number of incidents of wild pigs intruding into urban areas and villages, and these wild pigs not only damaged and ate crops, but also intruded into residential premises and hurt the occupants. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it has studied the causes of wild pigs intruding into urban areas and villages many times in recent years; if it has, of the study results; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) whether it has kept statistics on the number of wild pigs and the changes in their numbers in each of the past three years; and
(c) given that members of wild pigs hunting teams at present are required to hold special permits issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) and arms licences issued by the Hong Kong Police Force to kill wild pigs, whether the Government will consider relaxing the relevant regulations and also introducing other relevant measures, so as to reduce the nuisance caused to residents by wild pigs; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(a) Whenever the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) receives complaints about wild pig damaging crops or sighting of wild pigs, it would send staff to conduct field investigation. Generally, after investigation, it would be discovered that wild pigs were found searching for food at the agriculture fields in the countryside area or at the refuse collection points near villages. In general, wild pigs mainly go to nearby rural villages in search for food.
(b) Since 2002, the AFCD has been regularly conducting territory-wide ecological surveys on Hong Kong's mammals by using infra-red automatic cameras. The surveys show that wild pigs are widely spread and more frequently found in the countryside areas. They are commonly found in woodland, grassland and agriculture field areas. The AFCD however has not conducted any investigation on the increase or decrease in number of wild pigs.
(c) In Hong Kong, there are at present two wild pig hunting teams consisting of civilian volunteers. Members of the hunting teams must have special permits issued by the AFCD under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Chapter 170) and arms licences issued by the Police before they are able to participate in wild pig hunting. After the Police, the District Offices of the Home Affairs Department or the AFCD received complaints and confirmed the threat of wild pigs, the hunting teams will be notified to set out hunting, in order to reduce the threats posed to human safety and property. On the other hand, the wild pig hunting teams' actions must take necessary safety measures during wild pig hunting to ensure personal safety as well as the safety of third parties. The relevant requirements, including no hunting shall take place on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays and that during hunting, team members must take necessary safety measures to prevent accident and incident of causing bodily injury from taking place, are listed out in the above-mentioned special permits and licences. In view of the above-mentioned safety considerations, and that the existing hunting actions are able to effectively control the number of wild pigs, we have no plan to relax the relevant requirements at present. However, the Government will conduct review from time to time in response to changing circumstances. Moreover, the AFCD will recommend preventive measures to residents affected by wild pig nuisance, such as installing fences, additional lighting or solar-powered electric fencing in their residence and agriculture field.
Ends/Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:09