Hong Kong authorities have had just about enough of wild boars.
An increasing number of attacks by the animals – including one involving a police officer last week – triggered a culling operation on Wednesday night in a district less than half an hour’s drive from Hong Kong’s financial centre.
Experts used dart guns to capture seven wild boars, which were later put down via injection, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement.
Wild boars are a common sight in Hong Kong along hiking trails.
They are often fed by people despite appeals by authorities not to do so.
Previous attempts to relocate and sterilise the boars “could not effectively control the wild pig nuisance”, the department said.
“A large group of wild pigs continued to wander and gather at the site, posing threats to members of the public and road users,” the statement read.
Last week, a wild boar knocked down an auxiliary police officer and bit his leg before plunging to its death from a residential car park.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has since warned of stiffer penalties for those caught feeding the animals.
“I understand that a lot of Hong Kong people love the wetlands and nature. However, we also need to protect public safety,” Lam said.
“There were about 30 cases of wild boars attacking humans, we can’t simply sit on our hands while things deteriorate,” she said.
Philanthropic group ADM Capital Foundation, the Hong Kong Veterinary Association and other animal rights organisations have sent an open letter to the government criticising its shift in policy to cull the boars.
A petition by groups including Hong Kong Animal Post and Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group said the measures announced by the agriculture department to regularly capture and put down wild boars “ignores their right to live and considers their existence in urban areas as a capital offence”.
“This approach is extremely unreasonable and contradicts previous animal management policy principles,” the petition says.