Official policy is causing panic, says a welfare group An animal welfare group said yesterday many bird owners had abandoned their pets amid public panic created by the government. Joey Ng Yiu-cho, chairman of the Hong Kong Parrot Club, said he and his fellow members had seen pet birds flying around the city in recent weeks after the administration introduced a ban on backyard poultry this month. 'It is unusual to see pet birds such as parrots flying around. I have also seen a parrot with a ring on its foot. It shows they have been abandoned by their owners amid the bird flu scare,' Mr Ng said. He said the government's policy to control backyard poultry had sent a message to the public that it was dangerous to keep any birds at home, including pets. He warned a greater health risk would arise if these abandoned pets came into contact with wild birds which could spread bird flu. Mr Ng warned that more pet owners would abandon their birds if the government failed to change the focus of its publicity to tell people of ways to protect birds from the risk of bird flu. He was among about 100 pet owners who rallied in Central yesterday against the ban on backyard poultry. One backyard farmer yesterday said he was angered by the government's policy U-turn, announced on Friday, which allows bird owners to keep their pets. Anthony Tse Tin-yau said he had been forced to kill all his bantam chickens, English geese and fancy pigeons a few days before the government announced the ban from February 13. He had less than 20 birds in total. But he said he was furious the administration had decided to issue licences to allow the keeping of pet birds. 'When the government announced all backyard poultry was to be banned, I dutifully slaughtered my flock even though it was heartbreaking ... There was never any mention of the possibility that you could apply for a licence. 'The government keeps changing its policies overnight - that is a real threat to the rule of law in Hong Kong ... It [the emotional trauma] is not something which money can compensate for,' the Shouson Hill farmer said.