Forum: Time to rein in Singapore's otter population

The otters that regularly make the news in Singapore need to be better managed.

Conservation is important, but so is minimising human-wildlife conflict.

Wild boars have never been encouraged to enter urban areas, neither should otters be just because they look cute.

Wild animals have the potential to spread zoonotic diseases and do not belong in urban environments.

But we allow otters to roam into urban areas without any form of deterrence.

People who spend millions on their landed properties often keep koi or other valuable fish worth up to many thousands of dollars in their ponds.

To suggest that they fence up their water features to guard against otters would be absurd, since there is nothing natural about otters living in urban environments.

The OtterWatch group should take more proactive action in discouraging otters from entering urban environments. Deterrents such as loud air horns or maybe carefully calibrated rubber bullets could be used.

Such tactics have been employed by people dealing with bears in the United States.

By making otters fear humans, it reduces human-otter conflict and actually helps conserve the species better in the long term.

Letting otters run amok and wreak havoc in fish ponds around Singapore is not exactly painting them in a good light, especially when otters have been known to kill fish just for sport.

In 2017, a French girl was bitten by an otter at Gardens by the Bay.

Otters should be confined to wild areas in Singapore, such as the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, where they truly belong.

This needs to happen quickly, before people who keep fish get frustrated enough to poison otters.

Ong Junkai