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Hong Kong – It may be the year of the pig, but Hong Kong has had enough of the wild ones.

Authorities in the densely populated financial center are looking for ways to cut down on potentially dangerous encounters between humans and wild boars that have increased as the city’s ballooning population expands into former wilderness.

Boars are now frequent sights on roadways, in parks and housing developments and even in shopping centers, and there is concern that the animals have lost their fear of humans.

While the government is pushing for softer measures such as sterilization for the pigs and education for humans who feed them, others say the solution is a full-scale cull of the swine.

The debate about how to handle the wild boars comes as the city of more than 7 million people is being festooned with pig-themed decorations in preparation for the Lunar New Year holiday that officially began Tuesday. The pig is one of 12 animals that in the Chinese zodiac’s 12-year cycle.

Not far from its cramped apartment blocks and neon lights, Hong Kong has plenty of untouched land, traditionally home to a variety of animals, including wild boars. Some areas where homes are close to parks or forests, such as Aberdeen in Hong Kong Island’s south, have become popular spots for growing numbers of boars to forage for food amid the garbage cans.

The government’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department says it doesn’t know how many wild boars there are in Hong Kong. But it has acknowledged a big increase in public complaints about the animals in recent years – from 294 in 2013, to 738 in 2017.

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