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Official: Wildlife Hunting 'Will Help Protection'
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Income from the sale of China's wild animal hunting quotas will be used solely to fund wildlife protection efforts, a senior official vowed yesterday.

The number of animals for which hunting licenses will be auctioned will be very limited and will not harm species diversity, according to Du Yongsheng, director of the police division of the State Forestry Administration.

The administration had planned to hold China's first auction of hunting quotas in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, on August 13, selling quotas for about 200 species, including argali, oryx, burhel, red deer, Gervus albirostris, ibex and yak.

But there was strong public opposition to the auction, with accusations that the move was profit-driven and would affect endangered wildlife in China. The administration therefore decided to postpone the auction. A date has yet to be decided.

Du said the auction is in line with China's Forestry Law, and Law on the Protection of Wildlife, and it is an international practice to hunt a certain number of wild animals for culling purposes.

"For example, kangaroos are valuable in Australia. But the big population has harmed the environment, so the Australian government allows certain quotas for kangaroo hunting every year," Du said.

But he stressed that any hunting without a license is illegal in China.

Xinhua News Agency reported earlier that locals and foreigners would be allowed to bid on the right to hunt animals, but local bidders would face some problems there because Chinese are prohibited from owning firearms.

Foreigners were previously allowed to hunt in China only after a complicated application process. By the end of last year, China had earned US$36.39 million from licenses issued to 1,101 foreigners who have hunted 1,347 animals since 1985.

Du also said that the police would ensure better management of confiscated wildlife products in the future. "Instead of burning them, we may give them to schools to be used as specimens," he said.

(China Daily September 29, 2006)

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