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'It's sad and inhumane': Yishun resident on dead pigeons spotted in estate

'It's sad and inhumane': Yishun resident on dead pigeons spotted in estate
The pigeons were either dead, or twitching and having tremors. Some pigeons were also found on grass patches between Block 438 and Block 436 in Yishun Avenue 11.
PHOTO: Ms Aishah

SINGAPORE - Close to 30 pigeons, many of them dead or unconscious, were found on the grass patch and in common areas between Block 438 and Block 436 in Yishun Avenue 11 last Monday (May 29) evening.

A Yishun resident, who wanted to be known only as Ms Aishah, said some of the pigeons were struggling, flapping their wings while on the ground.

Ms Aishah, 28, also spotted some children playing near the area at around 6pm that day, as she was on her way to pick up her younger brother from school.

The pigeons were still there when she went back to check four hours later at 10pm.

“This is my first time seeing dead pigeons around the area,” said Ms Aishah.

She contacted the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), who arrived at the scene within the hour.

“It’s very sad and inhumane to see not just a few, but about 20 dead birds lying around where people are walking around, some with their pets, and with cats and children around. It’s not safe,” said Ms Aishah, who is an administrative executive.

“Some of the kids that were playing around where the birds were found were very young, maybe less than four.”

An e-mail sent to Ms Aishah from a Nee Soon Town Council representative said that there was a “scheduled pigeon treatment” last Monday, which was done to manage the pigeon population as they have brought about hygiene issues and inconveniences to residents around the area.

The e-mail, seen by ST, stated that cleaners would usually be present during and after the treatment to clear the carcasses. It added that the town council was “disheartened” to hear that the clean-up was not done in time. It did not mention how it manages the pigeon population.

The town council representative added that cleaners were given a verbal warning to be more alert during such operations so that missed carcasses do not pose a danger.

Acres co-chief executive officer Anbarasi Boopal told ST that 20 pigeons were found dead when the non-profit’s wildlife rescue team arrived last Monday night, while seven others were taken in and treated by the team.

The birds were observed to be twitching and having tremors, eyes closed while unable to walk or stand properly, said Ms Anbarasi, who added that this aligns with the effects of a drug that can be used to cull birds, called alpha-chloralose (AC).

“(It) makes the birds lose their ability to control body temperature, or defend themselves from danger by flying away or moving,” said Ms Anbarasi.

“Many times, we have observed these birds falling prey to other animals, or drowning in drains or canals, or dying from being cold for too long.”

Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann told Parliament in 2021 that National Parks Board (NParks) had been working with town councils to encourage them to move away from the use of toxins and to adopt animal-control measures and practices that are humane and safe.

Yet, Acres has rescued over 1,000 poisoned birds in the past two years, noted Ms Anbarasi.

The non-profit has also been reaching out to town councils since 2020 to end the use of AC for pigeon control as it is not only inhumane and ineffective, but it also works indiscriminately on any animal consuming it, said Ms Anbarasi.

She added that AC could be mixed into food bait fed to the pigeons, as the rescue team has observed rice and bread being thrown by pigeon control operators.


“While we are glad that there are additional efforts such as the tray return policy by the National Environment Agency and intensive prominent educational signs on pigeon feeding by some of the town councils, we hope that more measures are put in place to bring the pigeon population down effectively using the food reduction approach and ending feeding by residents,” said Ms Anbarasi.

“Culling them without reducing food sources will cause an increase in pigeon population, as more food will be available for less pigeons to breed successfully.”

In response to queries from The Straits Times, NParks group director of wildlife management Adrian Loo said the agency works with town councils to manage the pigeon population.

“Rock pigeons are not native to Singapore and are an invasive species that compete with our native species,” said Dr Loo. “Their droppings dirty the environment and cause disamenities like the soiling of clothes.”

Dr Loo added that the agency takes a science-based approach towards the management of invasive bird species. This includes active population control including trapping and culling, removal of human food sources, habitat modification such as targeted tree pruning, and undertaking studies to understand the ecology of pest birds.

NParks also works with town councils and other agencies to reduce food sources for pigeons, such as by tackling high rise littering and managing waste at food establishments, said Dr Loo.

ST has contacted Nee Soon Town Council for comment.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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