Control otter population before problems arise

I was delighted to learn that the otters in Singapore are hybrids of two species, the first known case in wild otters (Surprising branch in Singapore's otter family tree; Jan 11).

Like many Singaporeans, I am a fan of these mammals and I love to see them foraging for food almost every evening at Changi Point between 6pm and 7pm.

However, there are some negative implications of the growing number of otters.

Last month, a five-year-old girl was bitten by one when she went too near a group of otters, and required surgery.

Some otters had preyed on fish kept by Sentosa Cove residents in their ponds, while a group of otters had strayed onto the tarmac at Changi Airport, posing a potential hazard.

An increasing population and reduced availability of prey in urban Singapore may make these animals more angry or aggressive.

Something should be done to control the otter population before more negative encounters with the public cause Singaporeans to raise objections to their existence here.

Phillip Tan Fong Lip

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2018, with the headline 'Control otter population before problems arise'. Print Edition | Subscribe