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LCQ1: Wild pigs causing nuisances to the public
     Following is a question by the Hon Jeffrey Lam and a reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (March 21):

     It has been reported that incidents in which wild pigs foraging food strayed near residential areas and caused nuisances to the public have occurred from time to time, and such incidents have spread from suburban areas to urban areas in recent years. In those incidents, some wild pigs tipped over rubbish bins, jeopardising environmental hygiene; injured passers-by and cyclists by hitting or biting them, posing a threat to the personal safety of the public; and bolted out into the roads, endangering road safety. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of complaints about nuisances caused by wild pigs received by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in each of the past five years (with a tabulated breakdown by whether the locations at which wild pigs appeared were in the New Territories, Kowloon, Hong Kong Island or outlying islands); the number of those complaints in respect of which the Department informed the Civilian Hunting Teams to carry out hunting operations, and the way in which the remaining complaints were handled;

(2) given that the AFCD currently uses satellite tracking technology to monitor the activities of wild pigs and their migratory routes after they have been released back to the wild, and applies a contraceptive drug on wild pigs, whether it has assessed the effectiveness of such measures in containing the nuisances caused by wild pigs; and

(3) whether it has formulated measures to reduce the appearance of wild pigs in the vicinity of residential areas, so as to enhance the protection of the personal safety of the public and maintain environmental hygiene; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

     My reply to the Hon Jeffrey Lam's questions are as follows:
(1) and (3) Wild pigs are more common and widespread in Hong Kong as compared to other wild animals. They usually live in woodland areas, however, they may occasionally wander into the adjacent residential areas to search for food from feeders or food residues in litter, causing nuisance to the public.

     Over the past five years, the number of complaints on wild pig received by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) is set out in Table 1:

Table 1
Year Hong Kong Island Kowloon New Territories Outlying Islands Total
2013 98 12 172 12 294
2014 125 18 183 10 336
2015 223 33 254 8 518
2016 222 52 302 7 583
2017 324 32 370 12 738
     In general, upon receipt of reports about wild pigs being injured, trapped in urban areas or appeared in residential area causing nuisance, the AFCD will deploy staff to the scene to handle the situation. The AFCD's veterinary officers will also be deployed to the scene to assist in catching the wild pigs with tranquiliser dart guns if necessary. If circumstances warrant, the wild pigs caught will be released in suitable remote locations such as country parks. On the other hand, there are two wild pig hunting teams (the hunting teams) formed by civilian volunteers which are responsible for wild pig hunting operations. Only when there are confirmed public reports of damage caused by wild pigs or they are threatening human safety and property on a frequent basis, and the preventive and other kinds of measures are not effective, the AFCD will notify the hunting teams to conduct hunting operations.  With a view to effectively controlling the number of local wild pigs and minimising the disputes between wild pigs and the public, the AFCD is conducting a comprehensive review of the current strategies and measures for the management of wild pigs. Therefore, the hunting operations by the hunting teams have been suspended since early 2017 until completion of the review. For the time being, all cases of wild pigs are handled by the AFCD's staff at the scene.
     Over the past five years, the number of hunting operations conducted and the number of wild pigs caught by the hunting teams are set out in Table 2:

Table 2
Year Number of hunting operations/wild pigs caught
Hong Kong Island New Territories Outlying Islands Total
2013 7/7 81/41 6/7 94/55
2014 0/0 22/11 4/6 26/17
2015 1/1 46/26 3/17 50/44
2016 4/2 50/29 7/14 61/45
2017 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0
     To enhance protection for public safety, upon receiving reports on wild pig nuisance, the AFCD will conduct investigation at sites where wild pigs occur regularly and provide advice on preventive measures to the affected members of public, relevant property management offices and government departments. If any environmental hygiene problem is identified, the AFCD will refer the case to the relevant departments to follow up.
     Besides, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has been taking the advice of the AFCD to conduct improvement works for facilities that are prone to wildlife raids. Examples include the installation of metal swing doors at village-type refuse collection and recycling points and erecting bollards or parapets at bin sites to prevent the knocking down of refuse and recycling bins by wildlife, such as wild pigs.  Furthermore, the AFCD is setting up a working group and commissioning a consultancy study on improvements in the design of refuse collection and recycling points, refuse bins, litter containers and recycling bins against wildlife raids.
(2) In late 2017, the AFCD launched a two-year pilot study for the contraception of wild pigs in Hong Kong with a view to evaluating the effectiveness of an immune-contraceptive vaccine to control the population of wild pigs habituated to feeding and causing nuisance to the public. In the study, the AFCD's contractor will deploy veterinarians to capture wild pigs using tranquiliser dart guns, administer contraceptive vaccine, implant microchip and install GPS transmitter to suitable wild pigs in good body conditions. The wild pigs will then be released back to the countryside. The AFCD will monitor the wild pig populations concerned to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme.

     In fact, the most effective way to reduce the appearance of wild pigs in residential areas is to stop feeding them. The public's feeding will wrongly impress the wild pigs that there is stable food supply and attract them to appear regularly near urban or residential areas. As such, the AFCD is conducting a series of publicity and education programmes, including promotion on TV and radio, fun day, roving exhibitions, public lectures and visits, etc. to publicise the negative impacts of feeding wild animals. The AFCD has also recently set up a YouTube Channel and Facebook fan page, and launched the Announcements in the Public Interest together with a series of micro-movies titled "Don't Feed Wild Animals and Feral Pigeons" to inform the public about the negative consequences of feeding wild pigs, monkeys and feral pigeons etc.

     Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Issued at HKT 15:50
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