SINGAPORE - The ubiquitous rock pigeon is an invasive species and feeding them can attract other pests like rats, said group director of wildlife management at the National Parks Board (NParks), Dr Adrian Loo.
Their droppings on living areas and public amenities are irksome, and can also spread diseases to people with lower immunity.
In order to reduce pigeon numbers in Singapore, NParks worked with other government agencies and four town councils to pilot a pigeon management plan that led to a 25 per cent drop in the amount of complaints from the public.
These efforts were recognised at this year's Municipal Services Awards on Wednesday (Nov 17).
The awards seek to commend inter-agency efforts to find effective solutions to public problems and officers who put residents first in delivering municipal services, said the Municipal Services Office (MSO).
Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of National Development Sim Ann was at the virtual awards ceremony.
She said the Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly changed how Singaporeans live, increasing the amount of time spent at home and citizens' awareness of the state of their living environment.
She said that it has also made it more difficult for agencies and public officers to deliver public services at the same standards as before, adding: "Let me say a very big thank you to everyone who has been helping to keep Singaporeans safe and ensuring that our services run smoothly."
The pigeon management plan was one of 20 winners from a pool of 90 nominated projects.
Pigeon hot spots were identified in areas under the Bishan-Toa Payoh, Jalan Besar, Pasir Ris-Punggol and Tanjong Pagar town councils.
Given that a NParks study found that about 70 per cent of the food eaten by feral pigeons comes from people, the programme focused on stopping people from feeding them, Dr Loo said, by talking to regular feeders and setting up information boards explaining the dangers of feeding pigeons.
Habitat modification works were also done to reduce pigeon breeding spots, such as by installing netting over nooks and crevices to prevent pigeons from nesting.
Other winning projects included a new bridge over Pang Sua Canal connecting Woodlands Road and Choa Chu Kang Park by NParks, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), PUB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, as well as the installation of double-decker bicycle racks in Housing Board estates to cope with a surge in demand for safe bicycle parking.
Also awarded was an initiative spearheaded by LTA to enhance the safety of children who walk to school.
Students were recommended routes where they could cross roads safely or avoid heavy traffic spots. LTA and HDB also made infrastructure improvements along the routes where necessary.
Called Safe Route to School, it was trialled at three schools - CHIJ St Nicholas Girls', Pasir Ris Primary and Concord Primary - in January 2020.
Primary 5 and 6 pupils at Pasir Ris Primary designed traffic signs that were used to mark out the routes.
The spokesman for the school said: "Through this initiative, we have observed more students and parents using the safe routes to school."