Public education campaign shows how stopping littering, feeding can curb pigeon nuisance

Pigeons at the walkway between Blocks 601 and 602 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5. An anti-pigeon feeding poster has also been put up in the area.
Pigeons at the walkway between Blocks 601 and 602 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5. An anti-pigeon feeding poster has also been put up in the area. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Yio Chu Kang residents had been getting in a flutter about flocks of pigeons causing a nuisance, but local authorities believe a public education campaign it ran last year has helped to reduce the problem.

Grassroots leaders knocked on doors at two blocks to explain to locals why they should not feed the birds and drop litter, while cameras were set up at hot spots where pigeons congregated in a pilot scheme which ran from May to October.

Since then, the number of monthly complaints about high-rise littering and pigeon feeding in the area has fallen from about seven to two, the Municipal Services Office (MSO) told The Straits Times.

Conducted by Ang Mo Kio Town Council and government agencies, the campaign also saw posters and banners displayed in the area, explaining how a growing pigeon population posed health hazards to the community.

Efforts to catch people who dropped litter or fed pigeons were also stepped up.

Other neighbourhoods could benefit by adopting such actions in response to increased pigeon feeding offences in the past three years.

Current measures by the National Parks Board (NParks) include surveillance at pigeon-feeding hot spots and public education efforts, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling told Parliament on Wednesday (May 8).

 

"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 to a question by Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) on whether the pilot programme could be rolled out to other neighbourhoods.

Another pigeon hot spot is Old Airport Road food centre, where the ST observed the birds flying around and landing on unoccupied tables.

A spokesman for Marine Parade Town Council, which oversees the area, said netting has been installed at hawker centres to keep birds away, along with spikes on pipes and ledges to prevent them from roosting.

The town council also works with the Hawker Association and NTUC Foodfare to ensure tables are cleared promptly, and carries out pigeon control operations as a last resort.

"Despite the preventive and reactive efforts on the ground, pigeon-related nuisances continue to be an issue as the primary cause of the thriving pigeon population is the availability of food in hawker centres and from pigeon feeding," she added.

Although the Yio Chu Kang pilot showed some success, the ST spotted around 15 pigeons at the two blocks on Friday, suggesting that the pigeon problem will not be solved if people continue to feed them and drop litter.