The city of Beijing is accelerating procedures to pass a set of regulations that prohibits hunting and consumption of all wild animals, which are believed to be the source of the outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19). It is also planning to establish wildlife disease monitor stations in areas populated with wild animals.
Drafted regulations on wild animal protection and management were discussed at a meeting of the 15th Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress on Thursday, two months earlier than originally scheduled, the Beijing Daily reported on Thursday.
Beijing has rich wildlife resources, with more than 500 kinds of wild vertebrates, and the hunting of wild animals used to be prevalent. The draft regulations prohibit the hunting and killing of wild animals at any time of year in all parts of the capital city, the report said, noting that anyone who violate the regulation will be fined.
The draft regulations also ban the consumption of all terrestrial wild animals and certain aquatic wild animals, and forbid markets from trading in them. A penalty of two to 15 times the price of the consumed wild animal will be enforced if the regulations are violated, while the Rural Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress suggested this fine should be even higher, the Beijing Daily reported.
While the source of COVID-19 is yet to be determined, researchers said more than 70 percent of new infectious diseases originated from wild animals. As a result, the draft regulations also included a plan to set up wildlife disease monitor stations in areas where there is a high risk of wildlife spreading disease, such as areas populated with wild animals and artificial breeding facilities in Beijing.
Other related actions such as the unauthorized freeing of animals and trading of wild animals under the guise of sheltering and rescue will be punished, the report said, noting that anyone can report violations to related authorities.
On February 24, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, made a decision to thoroughly ban illegal wildlife trade and eliminate bad habits of eating wild animals to safeguard people's health and livelihoods.