New method on trial to repel pesky birds

Pest management professionals fogging a tree in Yishun Street 71. The chemical causes a brief burning feeling in mynahs' faces, mouths, and throats.
Pest management professionals fogging a tree in Yishun Street 71. The chemical causes a brief burning feeling in mynahs' faces, mouths, and throats.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Chemical repellent to be applied to trees where birds roost in Clementi and Yishun

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) yesterday launched a new method to repel mynahs in Clementi and Yishun. These birds have drawn complaints for the nuisance they cause.

Every two months for the next year, the AVA will be fogging the trees where the birds roost in Yishun Street 71 and Clementi West Street 2 with a chemical repellent.

The chemical - which has methylated soya bean oil and grape extract - causes a brief, temporary burning feeling in the mouths, throats and other parts of the mynahs' faces.

Ms Janet Chia, 29, executive manager of operations at the wild animals section at AVA, said: "While repeated fogging will not affect the birds' health, we hope that the birds will learn to avoid the area."

She said the chemical is not known to have adverse effects on humans or animals, and has been effective in stopping birds from feeding on crops in the United States.

The trial comes as the number of bird-related feedback to the AVA jumped from about 5,700 in 2014 to about 7,300 last year. Complaints about mynahs rose from about 360 in 2014 to about 500 last year.

The AVA and town councils received around 110 complaints in total from residents in Yishun Street 71 and Clementi West Street 2 last year and the year before. Most are about the noise and soiling caused by the birds.

Madam Azizah Salam, 64, a retiree who lives in Yishun Street 71, said bird droppings often dirty cars and common corridors."They can be very noisy in the morning and in the evening too," she said.

The AVA said it will assess the method's effectiveness and determine if it should be implemented elsewhere. It added that a similar trial in 2014 in Jurong West Street 64 found that five consecutive days of fogging kept the birds away for only about two months. Hence the new trials will each last a year.

The trial in Yishun started yesterday, while the one in Clementi will begin next month. Each bi-monthly session involves fogging for five consecutive evenings.

Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng said some residents do not want the birds to be harmed, while others want to get rid of them.

"Using this method, which is more humane and doesn't harm the birds, the birds are repelled from this area, addressing both sides of residents' concerns," he said.

Said Ms Chia: "The public should not feed the birds as feeding may encourage the birds to congregate or result in an increase in their population, which could result in related nuisance and hygiene issues."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'New method on trial to repel pesky birds'. Print Edition | Subscribe