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Hunting Auction Needs Public Opinions
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China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) is to solicit suggestions from the public before deciding whether to continue the auction of hunting quotas and licenses.

SFA spokesman Cao Qingyao said on Tuesday that the SFA would further research the issue and information would be released as soon as possible.

But he could not give details about how the public could make submissions.

Angry Chinese Internet users criticized the auction for the right to hunt 289 animals of 14 species under national protection when the news was released last week.

Internet users claimed the auction was purely profit-driven.

The SFA, China's wildlife protection agency, said the animals were not endangered species and restricted hunting would help manage their stocks.

The SFA postponed the auction as a result of the response from the public, which it described as "beyond expectations" last Friday, just two days before the planned auction on August 13.

The auction was scheduled to take place in Chengdu, capital of southwestern Sichuan Province.

Both Chinese and foreigners would have been allowed bid on the right to hunt animals, said Cao.

However, as Chinese are prohibited from owning firearms, they face restrictions when it comes to hunting.

It was to have been the first such auction in China.

Foreigners were previously allowed to hunt in China only after completing a complicated application process. By the end of last year, China had earned US$36.39 million by allowing 1,101 foreigners to hunt 1,347 animals since 1985.

China's hunting quota rose from just three individual animals in 1985 to 123 in 2005. The country has opened 25 hunting ranges to foreigners.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2006)

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