Pasir Ris residents welcome wildlife in neighbourhood

72% in poll want wild chickens to be allowed to roam; response to stray dogs, wild boars mixed

In a survey on wild animals in Pasir Ris, nearly 40 per cent of 4,688 respondents wanted all wild boars to be removed or relocated from the neighbourhood. About one-third said wild boars should be allowed to roam freely, while almost 30 per cent want
In a survey on wild animals in Pasir Ris, nearly 40 per cent of 4,688 respondents wanted all wild boars to be removed or relocated from the neighbourhood. About one-third said wild boars should be allowed to roam freely, while almost 30 per cent wanted them to remain in Pasir Ris, but in controlled numbers.ST FILE PHOTO

Pasir Ris residents have spoken, and most of those polled want the wildlife - especially the wild chickens - roaming in their neighbourhood to stay.

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean posted the results of the Survey on Wild Animals in Pasir Ris Estate on his Facebook page on Tuesday, after a two-week online poll with 4,688 respondents that ended on Sunday.

The wild chickens captured the hearts of 72 per cent of the respondents, who wanted them to continue to roam free.

Sentiments were, however, mixed when it came to stray dogs and wild boars. About one-third (32 per cent) of respondents said wild boars should be allowed to wander as they wish, and a tad more (35 per cent) said the same for stray dogs.

Almost 30 per cent would like the dogs and wild boars to remain in Pasir Ris, but in controlled numbers.

Nearly 40 per cent voted for all wild boars to be removed or relocated from their neighbourhood, and 36 per cent voted the same for the stray dogs.

For other wild animals, half of those polled wanted them to continue to roam freely in their neighbourhood.

Among the poll respondents, 4,505 are Pasir Ris residents.

Mr Teo, leader of the five-MP team for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, had posted the online survey on Nov 22, after a wild boar attack in the area last month.

A wild boar had charged at a 50-year-old woman in Sungei Api Api Park on Nov 17 and knocked her down.

The woman suffered lacerations on her left leg and her face.

Mr Teo said the survey results have been sent to the National Parks Board (NParks).

"Many residents also commented that we should have more education efforts on interactions between humans and wild animals," he said.

His team welcomes the offer by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) to work with NParks to help inform Pasir Ris residents and park users about such interactions.

Acres' deputy chief executive Kalai Vanan said it is a positive to see that most respondents want the animals to remain.

He also said that there is an ongoing, effective, islandwide Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage programme for dogs "which is a humane long-term solution to the stray dog population, compared with simply removal".

Two weeks ago, Mr Teo visited the resident who was injured by the wild boar.

"She has returned home after several days in hospital and is recovering, but still requires some medical procedures in the coming weeks," he posted on his Facebook page.

Some Pasir Ris residents, like investor relations manager Janet Chia, 31, said the findings did not surprise her, as wild boars and stray dogs can be perceived as more intimidating than wild chickens.

Undergraduate Teoh Xin Yi, 22, said some of her family members had been chased by stray dogs while cycling at a park connector in Pasir Ris.

"Despite the negative encounter, we enjoy the wildlife around us. My dad enjoys watching the wild boars roaming, but from a distance."

Mr Teo, meanwhile, emphasised that people should not feed wild animals.

"Feeding the animals encourages them to approach humans for food. Feeding also provides them more food than the normal environment can support."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2020, with the headline 'Pasir Ris residents welcome wildlife in neighbourhood'. Subscribe