Pilot scheme may help tackle pigeon issue

The National Parks Board conducts surveillance at pigeon-feeding hot spots, says Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling.
The National Parks Board conducts surveillance at pigeon-feeding hot spots, says Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling. ST PHOTO: JOSEPH CHUA

682 enforcement notices handed out in last 3 years for feeding the birds: Sun Xueling

A total of 682 enforcement notices were issued for pigeon-feeding offences over the past three years and, to combat the problem, a pilot programme carried out in Yio Chu Kang may be rolled out to the rest of Singapore.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling said this in Parliament yesterday, in response to queries posed by Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) on the number of summonses issued for pigeon feeding and steps taken to deter such behaviour by residents.

Ms Sun said that the National Parks Board (NParks) conducts surveillance at pigeon-feeding hot spots and partners with the National Environmental Agency and town councils to educate residents about the environmental health and hygiene concerns around feeding pigeons.

Mr Lim asked if more could be done - such as heavier penalties for pigeon-feeding offences, or increasing the manpower given to NParks to step up patrols.

"I think the message has not got to many of these pigeon feeders, that whatever they are doing is causing a health risk to other people," said Mr Lim, citing the birds' droppings as a health hazard.

Ms Sun urged members of the community to come forward to provide information on pigeon-feeding hot spots so that the manpower needed for targeted patrols can be put to more effective use.

She cited a pilot programme launched in Yio Chu Kang where cameras are used to nab residents found feeding pigeons and images of these offenders are put up around the neighbourhood to deter such behaviour and "create community awareness".

While Ms Sun said the results of the pilot programme, which was carried out from May to October last year, have been quite promising, she did not provide more details about the initiative.

Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) asked if the pilot programme could be rolled out to other neighbourhoods as her town council had seen little results after employing all other strategies mentioned by Ms Sun over the past nine years.

"Although the pilot seems to have worked quite well in Yio Chu Kang, I think we probably would have to distil it further, and work closely with the local MPs and grassroots advisers to see how we can adapt it for use in the local community," said Ms Sun in response.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) also weighed in on the issue, asking if it was possible to increase the manpower for surveillance, and emphasising that culling pigeons was not an option. "The more you cull, the more pigeons you have," said Mr Ng, who is founder of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, a wildlife rescue and animal welfare charity. He added that he hoped the pilot programme could be rolled out nationwide to effectively tackle the problem.

In response, Ms Sun said town councils employ a variety of initiatives to resolve issues such as littering and pigeon feeding, and culling is one of the many solutions.

She added that the Ministry of National Development is looking into other measures, including the use of bird contraceptives, to manage the pigeon population.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2019, with the headline 'Pilot scheme may help tackle pigeon issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe