Hong Kong is seeking to change the city’s wild animal protection laws to raise the maximum penalty for illegal feral pigeon feeding to HK$100,000 and imprisonment for one year. The proposed penalty would take effect next August, subject to approval by the legislature.
The government on Friday published the Wild Animals Protection (Amendment) Bill 2023 , which intends to enhance the deterrence against illegal feeding activities, protect wild animals and improve environmental hygiene.
Under the proposed legal amendments, the animal feeding ban would be expanded to cover feral pigeons. Anyone convicted of feeding them illegally could face up to a year behind bars and a fine 10 times higher than the existing HK$10,000 penalty.
The bill included a new fixed penalty system for illegal animal feeding, with the amount being set at HK$5,000. It also sought to widen the ambit of law enforcement.
“Feeding of wild animals and feral pigeons will affect their ability to forage and survive on their own in the wild, and constitute public hygiene and other issues,” an English statement from the Environment and Ecology Bureau read.
The bill is set to be tabled at the legislature for first reading on November 29. If the bill is passed, it would take effect on August 1 next year.
Contraceptive trial programme
In September 2021, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) launched a two-year trial programme of using contraceptive drugs on feral pigeons at their congregation spots at the Ma Tau Wai Road/Ma Hang Chung Road Rest Garden and outside the Kennedy Town and Hang Hau MTR stations.
The programme aimed to test the effectiveness of the use of contraceptive drugs in reducing nuisance caused by the pigeons, the government said at the time. The AFCD said it would announce the progress of the trial programme in due course and decide whether or not to expand it to other areas.
Felix Chow, spokesman for the Democratic Party on policies concerning animal protection, said on Friday that the two-year trial programme was completed and the government should report to the public on the effectiveness of the programme.
“[The government should] let citizens know whether the plan to control the growth of pigeon populations in Hong Kong is appropriate, and determine whether to extend the plan to different communities,” Chow wrote in a Chinese statement.
He added he hoped government personnel would step up law enforcement actions against illegal feeding after the bill was passed and not let the laws become a “mere formality.”
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