25th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) issued a reminder to the public today to think carefully before participating in mercy releases of animals. While the act of releasing animals into the wild may seem humane, the AFCD cautions that such actions can often be detrimental to the animals themselves and the local ecology.
A spokesman for the AFCD stated that some members of the public have engaged in mercy release activities, which involve releasing animals into the wild. However, releasing animals improperly, including releasing them into an unsuitable habitat, may affect their survival. Moreover, if exotic species or species that are incompatible with the local ecology are released, they may compete with native species for resources and adversely affect the local ecology. Therefore, the Government does not encourage the public to release animals.
To prevent cruelty to animals, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance (Cap. 169) states that it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to animals by releasing them improperly. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for three years upon conviction.
The AFCD inspects places where animal releasing activities are likely to take place and carries out publicity and education work. The Department encourages the public to consider other options, such as planting trees or participating in volunteer services with animal welfare groups and environmental protection organizations in lieu of animal release.
The spokesman reiterated that to safeguard animal welfare, members of the public must think carefully before participating in animal release activities. The AFCD also emphasises the importance of considering the potential consequences of releasing animals into the wild, as this may lead to an adverse impact on the local environment. While the intention behind animal releases may be good, it is crucial to ensure that the release is done properly and in an appropriate habitat to ensure the animal’s survival and prevent harm to the local ecology.
The AFCD’s reminder serves as a timely message to the public, especially during the summer months when there may be an increase in animal release activities. It is essential to understand that mercy releases without proper consideration can lead to unintended negative consequences.
The AFCD also encourages the public to report any suspicious animal release activities to the department. By working together, the government and the public can take steps to prevent animal cruelty and protect the environment.