SINGAPORE — They crow at ungodly hours, leave their droppings everywhere and are getting on the nerves of residents here — wild chickens are becoming an increasingly common sight in many neighbourhoods across the island.
The National Parks Board (NParks) has been receiving an increasing number of complaints over the years, with 600 instances so far in 2023. It received 950 complaints in 2021, up from 350 in 2017. Figures for 2022 are not available.
Free-ranging chickens have for years been reported in areas such as Pasir Ris and Kembangan, but residents say the birds have started popping up in 2023 in areas such as Jalan Bukit Merah, where they were once a rare sight.
Residents say they are concerned about the noise from crowing roosters, unhygienic droppings and how the birds clog up the road.
"It's almost as if I woke up one day, and all of them appeared in the neighbourhood." said Mr Gary Leong, a 69-year-old retiree from Jalan Bukit Merah.
The number of free-ranging chickens in his neighbourhood has increased significantly since January, said Mr Leong, who is concerned about the odour from the birds and their droppings.
One Kembangan resident, who wanted to be known only as Ms Ana, said the chickens are a hazard on narrow roads in her estate.
"When they suddenly come out from trees and bushes, we have to brake or swerve to avoid them," she said.
Meanwhile, people living in Pasir Ris said they are worried children might get sick from coming into contact with chicken droppings at playgrounds and void decks.
Pasir Ris resident Nuryati Arif, a 35-year-old beautician, said: "Even though the chickens and roosters mind their own business and are not violent, there is (the question of the) hygiene risk they pose to younger ones whose immune systems are not strong."
NParks' group director of wildlife management, Dr Adrian Loo, said in Housing Board estates it is up to town councils to oversee the management of free-ranging chickens.
"As the issues faced in residential estates are usually localised in nature, NParks supports and advises the relevant partners within each area that receive feedback about free-ranging chickens," said Dr Loo, in response to queries from The Straits Times.
He added that NParks will also work with grassroots organisations to come up with the best practices to manage the chicken population, such as advising residents against feeding them, and sharing information to reduce roosting sites.
The Pasir Ris-Punggol, Marine Parade and Tanjong Pagar town councils did not respond to a request for comment.
While the majority of the residents ST spoke to were against culling the birds, suggesting instead that they be caught and relocated to a farm, some people said the chickens were a nuisance and had to go.
One Bukit Merah resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lee, is irritated with the noise the chickens make, pointing out that a neighbour had once recorded a seven-minute clip of a rooster crowing at 4.30am.
"Sometimes the noise starts from 6am and is so overbearing that I just want to shout in frustration. I really wouldn't mind them being culled at this point," said the 46-year-old taxi driver.