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LCQ17: Management of stray cattle
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, in the Legislative Council today (November 1):


     Regarding the management of stray cattle, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of stray cattle captured, sterilised and relocated by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in each year since the Capture-Sterilisation-Relocation Programme was launched in 2011; the current health conditions of such cattle;

(2) as it has been reported that AFCD relocated stray cattle to Chong Hing Water Sports Centre in Sai Kung, but that place does not have sufficient grass and water for cattle's consumption nor enough woodland for their shelter, and the cattle may easily be knocked down by vehicles as there are many vehicles travelling there during holidays, of the measures put in place by AFCD to improve the living environment of such cattle, and whether AFCD will review its criteria for selecting the destinations for cattle relocation;

(3) as some members of the public have gone to Chong Hing Water Sports Centre to feed the cattle, whether AFCD has assessed if the fodder used is suitable for feeding the cattle and if such action will result in the cattle losing their instinct to forage for food; if so, of the assessment outcome; of the measures put in place to ensure that the stray cattle in various country parks are healthy and have enough food;

(4) of the number of stray cattle which sustained injuries or died after being hit by vehicles in each of the past five years; the measures put in place by the authorities to reduce such traffic accidents; as some members of the public have suggested fitting stray cattle with reflective collars to enable drivers to notice cattle wandering on the roads at night, with a view to reducing such traffic accidents, whether the authorities will consider adopting the suggestion; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(5) given that AFCD has all along been exploring for years the feasibility of the proposal of installing cattle grids to confine the movements of stray cattle, but it has so far not yet implemented the proposal, of the latest findings of its exploration (including the problems that may be involved), and whether it has any implementation timetable for the proposal;

(6) whether AFCD has made reference to other practices in overseas countries, with a view to formulating measures to effectively confine the movements of stray cattle and reduce traffic accidents involving cattle; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(7) as it has been reported that in Sai Kung in September this year, after a cow had been hit by a taxi and died, a person at the scene who suspected the cow was pregnant cut open the abdomen of the cow at the roadside in an attempt to save the life of an unborn calf, whether such an act of a person who is not a registered veterinary surgeon is legal and subject to regulation by law; how the Government currently handles animals (including cattle) injured in traffic accidents which are suspected to be pregnant?



     Having consulted the Transport and Housing Bureau, my reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) Since the end of 2011, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has been implementing the Capture-Sterilise-Relocate programme for stray cattle to control their population and reduce the nuisance caused to nearby residents.  Over the past three years (i.e. 2014-16), a total of 60, 70 and 69 heads of cattle respectively were relocated after being captured and sterilised where circumstances warranted.  AFCD conducts on-site inspections at the places to which the cattle are relocated on a weekly basis to observe the cattle's conditions.  Overall speaking, most of the relocated cattle have been in good health conditions since the launch of the programme.

(2) and (3) The siting criteria of AFCD for cattle relocation include ensuring adequacy in food, water, woodland and shelter for the cattle, and that the sites are kept at a distance from public roads in the urban areas.  AFCD will review from time to time the sites for relocation of cattle to assess whether the habitat continues to be suitable for cattle.

     Located within the Sai Kung Country Park, Chong Hing Water Sports Centre in Sai Kung complies with the above siting criteria and provides a suitable living environment for cattle.  The cattle can roam around freely in the country park, and live with the feral cattle originally inhabited there.  With about 4 500 hectares of green space, the Sai Kung Country Park has abundant natural resources (including plants, water and woodland) to provide adequate food and a suitable habitat for cattle in all seasons.  

     AFCD does not encourage members of the public to feed stray cattle, and has reminded cattle concern groups to stop feeding them.  When members of the public are found feeding cattle during AFCD's regular inspections, they will also be reminded the same.  Stray cattle by nature forage in the wild.  Providing food for cattle may affect their natural behaviour and survival instinct, causing them to become reliant on human for food.  Over time, stray cattle may even seek food from countryside visitors and take in food that is inappropriate for their consumption (such as meat).

(4), (5) and (6) The Government does not have statistics on the number of cattle injured or died in traffic accidents.  Appropriate traffic signs are erected by the Transport Department at road sections where necessary to alert drivers of cattle.

     AFCD notes that cattle concern groups have put reflective strips on some cattle.  However, AFCD is of the view that relocating cattle to spots with lower traffic flows is more effective than putting reflective strips on cattle in minimising traffic accidents involving cattle.  AFCD will continue with the work of relocating cattle to country parks.

     AFCD and relevant departments have carried out a detailed study on cattle grids, which found that such facilities are generally used on private land in farms in foreign countries to prevent cattle from going outside the farms.  With reference to the overseas experience, it is considered that there are potential safety hazards to road users if cattle grids are installed on local public roads.

(7) In case of animal (including cattle) getting injured in a traffic accident, the frontline Police officers will inform AFCD or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) for follow-up actions.  Depending on their respective condition, injured animals will normally be sent to SPCA for treatment.  Regarding cattle injured, AFCD officers will attend the scene to determine whether the injured cattle is suitable for treatment on the spot or needs to be sent to AFCD's farm for detailed inspection and treatment, based on the specific circumstances of the case (including the degree of injury and whether the injured cattle is pregnant). 

     In the absence of appropriate medical facilities, and on public health grounds, normally no surgery will be performed by veterinary surgeons on animals at the scene of accident.  Anyone who wantonly or unreasonably does any act causing any unnecessary suffering to injured animals would contravene the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance (Cap. 169) and may be prosecuted.
Ends/Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:00
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