Tampines residents in a flap over vanishing chickens

Some of the remaining chickens in the neighbourhood garden in Tampines Street 21. Some residents were concerned by the dwindling number of the fowl after the town council removed some, but the town council said it was acting on increased complaints a
Some of the remaining chickens in the neighbourhood garden in Tampines Street 21. Some residents were concerned by the dwindling number of the fowl after the town council removed some, but the town council said it was acting on increased complaints about early morning crowing and pests being attracted to the chicken feed.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

Residents upset birds were removed, but town council says it got complaints about noise

Some residents in Tampines are crying foul after several chickens, which had been roaming free in their neighbourhood, disappeared.

But the Tampines Town Council said just four of the birds were removed after some residents complained about the noise they made. The chickens were then handed to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

On Saturday, Chinese-language daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that residents of Housing Board flats in Tampines Street 21 had complained that many chickens had been removed, leaving only about 10 in the garden areas of Blocks 266 and 267.

Tampines Town Council said an arrangement was made to relocate the chickens on Aug 17, adding that there have been no additional attempts to trap the birds since.

"Four chickens were removed using cage traps and transferred to the AVA," a spokesman for the town council said.

She said the town council acted because of "increasing complaints of noise disturbances of late by the early morning crowing (of the chickens), and the leftover pellets or feed for these chickens (that) have been observed to attract pests such as rats".

But some residents, such as 70-year-old Madam Xie, liked the morning crowing. She told Lianhe Wanbao: "I miss the times in the kampung when I had chickens in the backyard, and the chickens make me feel very at home."

AVA said Tampines Town Council had approached the authority for advice on guidelines for the proper handling of chickens. The authority said town councils can decide whether to trap or remove chickens within their jurisdiction.

A spokesman for Tampines Town Council said it acted because of "increasing complaints of noise disturbances of late by the early morning crowing (of the chickens), and the leftover pellets or feed for these chickens (that) have been observed to attract pests such as rats".

But trapping operations should not result in any form of cruelty to the birds and the tools used to trap the chickens need to be "appropriate and humane", AVA added.

Trapped birds should also have sufficient food, water, shelter and space during transportation.

As for the four Tampines chickens, AVA said that it is working with animal welfare groups to rehome them. It also clarified that the chickens are not the nationally endangered red jungle fowl that is native to Singapore.

The Tampines Town Council spokesman said it "understands that the chickens have brought joy to some residents within the community". But she added that the population of the birds had grown substantially due to natural reproduction and illegal feeding.

"The town council is doing our best to achieve a balance within a common living space," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'Tampines residents in a flap over vanishing chickens'. Print Edition | Subscribe