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Saigon's Rifle-Wielding Urban Hunters Are Killing Off the City's Wildlife

The Ho Chi Minh City Forest Ranging Department is struggling with an unusual issue these days. According to the exasperated forestry arm of Saigon's municipal government, local residents are visiting the city's suburban districts to hunt small animals with high-powered air rifles.

First of all, yes: apparently, Saigon – Vietnam's largest metropolis – has a department dedicated to forest rangers. Second, city residents are purchasing thousand-dollar air rifles to shoot wild fowl and small mammals, reports Tuoi Tre

District 12 seems to be a prime spot for such outings, as one undercover Tuoi Tre reporter discovered while accompanying a group of local men on a hunting expedition. During their time together, the reporter watched one hunter kill a few storks and a chicken that may have been someone's pet, while his companion, also a hunter, wasted no time de-feathering the animals on-site and throwing them into a mini gas cooker.

While all this probably makes for an interesting way to spend a Saturday, Nguyen Xuan Luu, head of Saigon's Forest Ranging Department, is not impressed. According to Luu, hunting small animals with air rifles is illegal. Those found doing so will be prosecuted, says the forest ranger. Also, as you might imagine, handling an air rifle in a densely populated area like Saigon poses some real safety risks.

The catch, however, is that apparently forest rangers lack the power to take away these air rifles. According to Luu, his department has tried to persuade local  owners to hand over their weapons to the authorities, however they have refused. It remains unclear why the “will be prosecuted” part of the previous paragraph does not carry any weight here, but so it goes.

According to Governmental Decree 167, Tuoi Tre writes, the production and use of firearms carries a fine of up to VND4 million, while repeat offenders can face up to two years of jail time.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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