Explainer: Hong Kong’s new policy of capture-and-kill for wild boars in urban areas

Shortly after a police officer was attacked by a wild boar in Hong Kong on the 10th of November, the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) has announced a new policy to capture and humanely euthanize wild boars that enter urban areas. The capture-and-kill approach is underway every month, aiming to reduce their number and nuisance. Animal rights groups including the Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group are urging the government to withdraw the policy, calling it “extremely unreasonable”.

A police officer is being treated after being bitten by a wild boar in Tin Hau on Wednesday morning. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Hong Kong has a population of 3,000 wild boars, which are not considered a protected species. The AFCD announced that the number of injuries regarding boars attacks has been rising rapidly over the last few years. Out of 36 cases for the past 10 years, 80% of injuries occurred between 2018 and 2021. More boars are seen in residential areas as the public feeds them.

Wild boars searching for food in a pile of rubbish at night. (Photo Courtesy: HK01)

The policy sparked a heated debate on whether the catch-and-kill strategy is the best to tackle the rapid increase of boars in Hong Kong. Animal activists argue that the approach is morally wrong, and the government should instead improve previous policies and raise awareness on the impact of feeding the animals.

Screenshot of the Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group Facebook page

With more than 17,000 followers on Facebook, the Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group said that wild boars “do not actively attack people” and many of the wounding incidents happen because the animals “get frightened”.

Currently, there are no wild boars killed since the implementation of the new policy.

Since 2017, the authorities have been relocating wild boars from the city to the countryside and performing contraception practices to control the rate of population increase. However, they have suspended the policy due to the increase in boar attacks and the boars continue to gather in urban areas.

AFCD Assistant Director Simon Chan said they may consider relaunching the licensing scheme to allow civilians to form hunting teams to hunt the boars.

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