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Singapore’s Pigeon Problem: What’s Being Done to Address It?

Several town council estates in Singapore are intensifying efforts to reduce the population of pigeons over the next six months, alongside measures to curb human food sources.

Why is Singapore reducing its pigeon population?
Authorities cite public health concerns as the primary reason. Pigeons can carry diseases like salmonella, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. Their droppings may also transmit ornithosis, leading to fever, headache, vomiting, and muscle aches.

Despite no confirmed cases of illness from pigeons in Singapore, these birds are considered a nuisance due to their messy feeding habits and droppings, noted Keita Sin, President of the Bird Society of Singapore.

Do other bird species pose similar problems?
Singapore is home to various bird species, including invasive ones like mynahs, crows, koels, and wild chickens. Mynahs, for instance, have caused hygiene issues and noise complaints, resulting in culling efforts in certain areas like Potong Pasir.

House crows are another common sight in urban settings, known for their loud cawing and droppings. Following incidents in Bishan where crows attacked residents, nests were removed and birds culled by the National Parks Board (NParks).

Asian koels, protected under wildlife laws, contribute to managing crow populations by nesting in their nests. However, their loud mating calls can be disruptive, necessitating management strategies from NParks.

How effective is culling as a solution?
Culling alone is considered ineffective and used as a last resort, according to experts and animal welfare groups. It needs to be complemented with other methods such as reducing food sources to be sustainable in the long term, emphasized Mr. Sin.

NParks employs habitat modification like tree pruning to discourage birds from roosting, breaking up large gatherings of crows and mynahs.

What about managing food sources?
Efforts are underway to manage waste and food scraps at bin centers and eateries. However, illegal bird feeding remains a challenge. NParks has stepped up enforcement against this practice, which can result in fines up to S$10,000 (US$7,400).

To discourage feeding, NParks offers alternative activities like community gardening and birdwatching, along with support for mental health needs through counseling.

Can humans peacefully coexist with wildlife in Singapore?
Beyond birds, encounters with monkeys, wild boars, and even crocodiles have made headlines. Experts stress the importance of not feeding wildlife, as it can lead to overpopulation and increased urban encroachment, posing risks to both animals and humans.

NParks emphasizes that refraining from feeding is a form of caring, ensuring wildlife remains in their natural habitats and reducing conflicts with humans.

In summary, Singapore’s efforts to manage its pigeon population and other urban wildlife focus on balancing public health concerns with conservation efforts and sustainable urban planning.

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