The government has proposed a ban on feral pigeons feeding, according to a paper submitted by Environment and Ecology Bureau to the Legislative Council on Monday that seeks amendments to the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance.

At present, feral pigeons are classified as domestic animals, as opposed to wild animals defined under the ordinance. The bureau has suggested that the Feeding Ban Area for wild animals could also apply to pigeons.

A crowd of pigeon on the street. Photo: GovHK.

The government said that “feeding feral pigeons will inevitably attract other wild animals like spotted doves and tree sparrows to eat the food given by the feeders, resulting in altering the foraging and migration behaviour of the latter, and jeopardising their ability to survive on their own in the wild.”

The paper said that feeding feral pigeons can increase their population, threaten the survival of other wild birds and cause ecological imbalances: “The food itself and the faeces from feral pigeons and wild birds… will not only foul public places, but also disgust and cause inconvenience to residents nearby and passers-by.”

Penalty up to one year’s imprisonment

The authorities are considering an increase to the maximum penalty for illegal feeding in the Feeding Ban Area from a fine of HK$10,000 to HK$100,000 and one year’s imprisonment, which will be on par with other offences under the ordinance.

The government also suggested setting the fixed penalty at HK$5,000 for the illegal feeding of wild animals and feral pigeons: “This will allow enforcement officers to immediately issue fixed penalty notices to the persons who are contravening or have contravened the feeding ban,” the bureau said.

A pigeon standing on the glass. Photo: GovHK.

The government said they plan to introduce the relevant amendment bill at the Legislative Council in the fourth quarter of this year. If passed, the amendments are expected to take effect in the third quarter of next year.

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Mandy Cheng is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. Previously, she worked at Ming Pao, focusing on investigative and feature reporting. She also contributed to Cable TV and others.