As people continue to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Pig, there has been renewed discussion among government officials and lawmakers as to whether we should use deadly force against wild boars that seem to be increasingly wandering into the city’s streets.
Hong Kong isn’t alone in having to deal with a deteriorating wild pig problem. Halfway across the world, Rome in Italy is also plagued by frequent invasions of wild boars into the local urban areas.
Some citizens in Rome have put the blame on the local municipal authorities, accusing them of doing a poor job in managing urban trash across the city and being sluggish in cleaning up kitchen waste left on the main streets.
That, they said, is prompting wild boars out of the woods and venturing into the neighborhoods to feed on the food waste.
To fight the wild boar invasion, the Italian government has mounted a city-wide hunting operation.
Unfortunately, between September and October 2018, three people were accidentally shot dead by hunters after the persons were mistaken for wild boars. And their tragic deaths have raised widespread public doubts about the legitimacy of this so-called solution.
Hong Kong also had its own wild pig hunting teams made up of civilians back in the 1970s, who were issued with special permits under which they were authorized to kill wild pigs with firearms.
Yet the field operation of the squads was put to a halt in 2017, when the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) launched a Pilot Capture and Contraception/Relocation Programme of Wild Pigs in October that year to control the wild boar populations in the territory.
However, the increasingly frequent wild hog rampages across the city’s streets in recent months have reignited public discussions about whether the government should bring the hunting squads back into action.
In our opinion, the administration should keep the squads on leash, when it is ready for action. After all, the lesson of the mistaken killing of civilians by the local wild pig hunting squads in Italy is a painful reminder of how attempts to wipe out wild boars by lethal firepower could result in dire consequences.
We believe that in any civilized society, people should learn how to co-exist peacefully with wildlife species.
Besides, the current AFCD method of catching and trapping wild pigs by firing dart guns to tranquilize the wild pigs has proven rather effective, hence if we can avoid the need of once again declaring open season on these animals, we can just avoid doing so.
As a matter of fact, perhaps humans only have themselves to blame for the increasingly frequent wild boar invasions into urban areas.
For example, in Rome, the wild pig problem may probably never have occurred had local authorities not done a lousy job in cleaning up urban waste.
In other words, we believe the key to stopping wild pigs invasions into the urban areas is not to use firearms, but rather, to step up efforts at keeping our main streets clean.
This is a task that would definitely require close cooperation and coordination among various government departments such as the AFCD and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 12
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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