Should there be a nationwide slaughter of masked palm civet cats? The central government is not sure, but Beijingers appear not to like the idea. Yesterday some called the slaughter in Guangdong nasty and useless, and heaped scorn on their southern cousins' habit of eating wild animals. The Shaanxi Agriculture Office on Tuesday issued an emergency order banning the export of more than 14,000 masked palm civet cats from the province to coastal areas, including Guangdong. Wang Wanyun, from the Shaanxi Forestry Office, said it was still waiting for a decision from the central government on whether to slaughter or isolate civets in the province. 'The death order is simply in Guangdong,' reports quoted an official of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine as saying. Farms, poultry and animal markets, and restaurants in Beijing and other cities were raided by authorities this week. But a spokeswoman for the Beijing municipal health bureau, Deng Xiaohong, said more investigations were needed on the threat posed by civets. It is unclear whether the animals transmit the Sars coronavirus. People in Beijing spoke out against the slaughter yesterday, describing it as inhumane. 'Guangdong made such a hasty and brutal decision. We should quarantine [the civets] in a protective way and await the scientific conclusions,' said Tan Ziqiang, 26, a project manager at a communications company. Guangdong native David Wang said the civets were innocent. 'It is people's fault. The animals would never come to us if we were not asking for them on our plates,' he said. Some are less forgiving. 'Man should only eat what he is supposed to eat. If someone goes against nature, he is doomed to answer for it,' said Kang Xisheng, a 50-year-old taxi driver. He said Sars erupted because of the 'queer habit' of eating wild animals. Another taxi driver, 31-year-old Wang Jingsi, said: 'It is no use killing wild animals as long as there is no efficient way to stop people from catching and eating them. We should have stricter regulations and laws instead of killing.'