Stone the crows, it's OK to kill street birds

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2006, 12:00am

Agriculture chiefs came under fire from birdwatchers and a legislator yesterday for their 'strange' statement encouraging the public to kill two types of wild bird common in urban areas.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said house crows and pigeons were not covered by the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance, and people could therefore kill them.

The department was responding to calls from Shamshuipo district councillors for it to do more to get rid of house crows after a dead bird carrying the H5 flu virus was found in Lai On Estate on Monday.

'We do not oppose people killing house crows or pigeons,' a department spokesman said.

But 'they should make sure that they really kill the birds instead of scattering them to neighbouring areas', he added.

The department gave no advice on killing the birds except saying a slingshot was not recommended.

'It is so strange,' said Lo Wai-yan, of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society. 'I cannot believe that the department would suggest people kill house crows themselves.'

He said all wild birds were covered by the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance, and even if the department believed it was lawful for members of the public to kill wild birds, it should do so itself.

'The general public does not have such knowledge. They might harm themselves in the process and make the control of house crows more difficult,' he said.

Kowloon West legislator Frederick Fung Kin-kee agreed.

'Wild birds are vehicles of the deadly virus,' Mr Fung said. 'It should be the responsibility of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to rid the estate of house crows.

'The department has been indecisive over the problem of house crows in Shamshuipo, and it's high time for it to make a more significant move.'

The department spokesman said it had hunted down and killed 230 house crows in Hong Kong last year, and had no plans to step up its measures.

The Housing Department said it had begun stepping up measures to ensure hygiene at public housing estates since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, preliminary testing of a house crow found dead in Shekkipmei has indicated a suspected case of the H5 strain, a department spokesman said. Further tests are being conducted.