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Attacks from wild boars have prompted local authorities to begin capturing them.

The wooded areas and hiking trails near Hong Kong are home to a large population of wild boars. Recently these boars have been propagating extensively, resulting in an increase in boar attacks. Hikers have also made the issue worse by leaving food for the boars despite advisories not to. The sheer number of boars and rising attacks prompted local authorities to undertake an operation to capture and euthanize the animals.

“I understand that a lot of Hong Kong people love the wetlands and nature. However, we also need to protect public safety,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said in a public news conference.

“There were about 30 cases of wild boars attacking humans, we can’t simply sit on our hands while things deteriorate,” she added.

The operation ran on Wednesday night, where hunters were able to subdue and euthanize seven boars. In response to the hunting operation, philanthropic group ADM Capital Foundation, in cooperation with multiple animal rights groups, sent an open letter to the Hong Kong government criticizing the choice to euthanize the boars.

“Our concern is that the current culling activity appears to be reactive and the deployment of alternative, humane and sustainable options have not been fully exhausted or satisfactorily addressed,” said Christie Wong, a court monitor for ADM Capital Foundation and former veterinary nurse.

“Hong Kong needs legislative reform to tackle the current gaps in existing laws, so that wildlife feeding is an illegal activity without ambiguity, penalties are severe and can be enforced effectively,” she said.

These groups and others are currently assembling a petition to appeal the city agricultural department’s decision on the boars, saying it “ignores their right to live and considers their existence in urban areas as a capital offense. This approach is extremely unreasonable and contradicts previous animal management policy principles.”