ANIMAL RIGHTS

Anger as hunters sent to cull wild boar damaging Sai Kung golf courses

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 September, 2014, 5:08am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 September, 2014, 6:40am

A hunting party was called in to shoot and kill wild boar on the Kau Sai Chau public golf courses in Sai Kung after the animals breached electric fences and damaged 44,000 square metres of turf in the past two months.

The population of boar, some of which are believed to swim out to the golfing island, which lies a 15-minute boat ride from Sai Kung, has grown steadily and is estimated to be 20.

The Jockey Club, which runs the club on donated government land, said it had made several attempts to keep out the boar and had built a 25km electric fence.

However, the efforts failed to stop boar from breaking onto the fairways, frightening golfers and digging in search of food, damaging about 2 per cent of the turf on the club's three 18-hole courses.

On Tuesday members of the Sai Kung Hunting Team took part in an authorised hunt on the island, shooting three 100kg boar.

The hunt angered the Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group, which branded it "cruel".

Group spokesman Roni Wong Ho-yin was incensed by a photograph of hunters posing with guns over two dead boar.

"It is not civilised behaviour to take such a photograph," said Wong. "Our group totally opposes the hunt and we think it contravenes … animal anti-cruelty laws.

"It is cruel and sacrifices the right of the wild boar to survive in nature and not be hunted for the sake of the enjoyment of the golf course users. What happened to the other bullets fired? They may have hit and injured other wild boar who ran away."

Wong said there were other options; the Jockey Club should spend more on fencing and lighting and introducing powerful water guns and noise machines.

The hunt was authorised by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, which says it issues permits to licensed hunters as a "last resort" when preventive measures fail and boar threaten human safety.

The department said it contacted the Sai Kung Hunting Team to arrange the hunt following site visits.

"Only when [preventative measures] are ineffective, and damage and threats to human and property persist, would we consider hunting as the last resort," it said.

"Hunting by firearms has been effectively applied in other overseas countries to stop agricultural damage caused by wild pigs. Other attempts to catch wild pigs, like darting and trapping, are ineffective.

"The team is requested to shoot the wild pigs in a manner that would kill them instantly."

A spokesman for the golf course said it was committed to ensuring the safety of those using the facilities.