The government is suggesting broadening a ban on feeding wild animals to cover the whole of Hong Kong and introducing tougher penalties for offenders, in a bid to more effectively deal with boars causing nuisance in urban areas.
In a paper submitted to the Legislative Council on Tuesday, the Environment and Ecology Bureau said the feeding of wild boars has become the main cause of nuisance in recent years, adding that there is a need to amend the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance to raise public awareness and increase the deterrent effect.
Currently, the ordinance only prohibits the feeding of monkeys and other wild animals at specified places, such as country parks.
The bureau said it had considered expanding the prohibition to cover what it said are feeding black spots, but eventually decided on a universal ban.
"In view of the possibility of feeders shifting feeding sites and the difficulty in enforcement, it is considered more appropriate to expand the Feeding Ban Area to the whole territory of Hong Kong and concentrate resources for enforcement work in places that are most seriously impacted by wild pig nuisance and areas nearby," the bureau said.
"With the substantial expansion of the Feeding Ban Area, it is expected that [Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department] will require more resources for enforcement work, alongside more manpower and resources for wild pig management. As the first step, AFCD will attempt to cope with the enforcement work through internal resources redeployment and a risk-based enforcement strategy."
To tackle repeat offenders or illegal feeding of "a serious nature and magnitude", authorities are proposing to raise the maximum penalty for the crime to HK$100,000 and one year in jail, up from the current HK$10,000 fine.
They are also hoping to introduce a fixed penalty of HK$5,000 for offenders, which is higher than the current fixed penalty for contamination of public places.
Legco's environmental affairs panel is expected to discuss the new measures at a meeting next Monday.
The new proposal comes months after authorities began culling wild boars found visiting busy streets, despite calls from the veterinary sector and animal welfare groups to pull the capture-and-kill strategy.
According to official data, authorities have captured and euthanised more than 110 wild pigs since the strategy was implemented in November last year.
The government earlier stressed that it doesn't plan to kill all of Hong Kong's wild boars, saying only those that pose a threat to the public will be targeted.