Tampines residents worry over missing neighbourhood chickens but town council assures just 4 were removed

Tampines Town Council said there was an arrangement made to relocate the chickens on Aug 17, 2018, adding that there have been no additional attempts to trap the birds since. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - The apparent disappearance of many wild neighbourhood chickens in Tampines has perturbed some residents, but the town council and the authorities have clarified that just four of the birds have been removed.

On Saturday (Sept 1), Chinese-language daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that residents of Housing Board flats in Tampines Street 21 had complained about many chickens being removed, leaving only about 10 in the garden area of Blocks 266 and 267.

But the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Tampines Town Council told The Straits Times that only four chickens were relocated.

On Monday, Tampines Town Council said there was an arrangement 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," said a town council spokesman.

She also explained that the town council had 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, feel the morning crowing gives a sense of nostalgia.

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."

Another resident, retiree Madam Yun, 68, told the Chinese newspaper: "As an elderly person who lives alone, these chickens lift my spirits. When I see them go missing, my heart aches and I can't sleep well."

AVA said that Tampines Town Council had approached the authority for advice on guidelines for the proper handling of chickens, and confirmed that four chickens had been sent to it.

The authority said that town councils can decide whether to trap or remove chickens within their jurisdiction.

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", the authority added.

When taking such caught chickens to AVA, "the town council should ensure that sufficient food, water, shelter and space are provided for the chickens during transportation", it added.

As for the four Tampines chickens, AVA said that it is exploring options to rehome them, and is working with animal welfare groups to find homes for the birds.

It also clarified that the chickens are not jungle fowls. The red jungle fowl is native to Singapore and is nationally endangered.

Tampines Town Council's spokesman said that 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.

She also noted that "the increased (chicken) population has gradually led to the migration of some chickens to two other neighbouring residential zones".

"We wish to assure (residents) that the purpose is not to remove the chickens completely from the neighbourhood. The town council is doing our best to achieve a balance within a common living space," the spokesman added.

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