Wild boar feedback more than quadruples in last 2 years

In 2016, Singapore’s veterinary authority received 140 pieces of feedback about the animals and euthanised 21 of them as a result.
Justin Ong Channel NewsAsia 14 Jan 17;

SINGAPORE: Feedback to the authorities about wild boars increased sharply last year, with more members of the public contacting the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore with complaints, sightings and other comments.

The AVA told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Jan 12) it received 140 pieces of feedback about wild boars last year - up from 80 in 2015 and 30 in 2014 - mirroring the increased number of sightings reported by media in recent months.

Last year, two motorcyclists were hurt in separate accidents - in April and November - involving wild boars which had wandered onto expressways. In June, one of the untamed pigs reportedly chased and injured a boy in a Punggol housing estate. A video of a woman feeding the animals in the same vicinity emerged some days later.

In response to the feedback last year, AVA told Channel NewsAsia it trapped and “humanely euthanised” 21 wild boars as relocation options are unavailable.

"SOME OF THE BOARS ARE VERY BIG"

The agency also said 13 of the pieces of feedback it received in 2016 about boars were from the vicinity of Pasir Ris Heights and Pasir Ris Drive 3, which has emerged as a hotspot for sightings. AVA has been conducting surveillance and control operations in the area to ensure public safety.

Kidz Meadow, a kindergarten located along Pasir Ris Heights, told Channel NewsAsia its staff and students had never encountered any wild boars, although one parent recently informed the school of a sighting at a nearby carpark. In response, the preschool reached out to the National Parks Board, who said it would look into the matter.

Meanwhile, residents in the area who were out jogging and walking on Thursday evening told Channel NewsAsia they were generally unconcerned by the presence of the feral swine.

Two of those people - who did not want to be named - even said they had never seen the boars in their respective 10 and 17 years of staying in Pasir Ris.

Resident Jason Guo, however, said that at least once a week, he would spot a herd of about 10 grazing in the forested area along Pasir Ris Heights. This only started about a year ago, the 25-year-old engineer added.

Another resident, Mr Kong, said boar sightings in the area were infrequent - although the 50-year-old did come across one further up north pounding the running path in Pasir Ris Park.

“Nothing to worry about… If they come near you, just siam,” he said, using the Singlish term for getting out of the way.

When Channel NewsAsia visited the area on Thursday evening, a solitary boar was spotted along Pasir Ris Heights, just before Kidz Meadow Kindergarten.

But a herd of at least 15 was openly grazing at the junction of Pasir Ris Drive 12 and 3, in close proximity to passing cars and cyclists.

Neeraj Bansal, who has lived just across the junction for three years, said that sightings had increased sharply in the last two weeks.

“I’m a bit concerned,” said the 33-year-old business analyst. “I have little kids, and some of the boars are very big and have really sharp teeth. Whenever we see them, we turn the other way and go off.”

“I’m not sure how they’re coming here,” he said, while suggesting the authorities could perhaps fence off the forested areas from the main road.

ISLANDWIDE BAN ON FEEDING ANIMALS?

AVA said the wild boars could be venturing into the open due to the presence of food or feeders. “Irresponsible feeding of wild animals can lead to an unsustainable population growth,” said a spokesperson.

“We urge the public to play their part and not feed wild boars.”

Anbarasi Boopal, director of the wildlife rescue centre at the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), agreed.

“Wild pigs have been fed by public regularly at Lorong Halus and there have been food and food packets left for wild pigs at Pasir Ris as well on the main road. It will draw the animals out," she said.

“An island-wide ban on feeding wildlife should be implemented to prevent such situations and should be enforced strictly.”

“When wild animals associate humans with food, they will continue to explore outside their habitats, returning for food and may even approach humans for food.”

AVA also advised the public not to approach, disturb, or try to catch the wild boars.

“The public should keep a safe distance from the wild boars and avoid confronting or cornering them, as wild boars may attack if they feel threatened,” said the agency. “Female wild boars with piglets should be left alone as they are very protective of their young.”

“Do not interact with the wild boar, and ensure that young children and pets are kept away as they may be curious and approach it.”

AVA said it would continue to monitor the situation and take necessary measures to ensure public safety.

Ms Anbarasi suggested that measures such as trapping and culling were “not a solution”.

“Singapore is growing as a green city where urbanisation meets wildlife habitats,” she explained. “Wild animals will continue to adapt in these pockets and will continue to explore new habitats."

"In this light, it is very important for everyone to be aware of ways to live in harmony with the wildlife, to prevent human-wildlife conflict situations.”


Rise in boar numbers spurs debate on wildlife feeding
The Straits Times AsiaOne 15 Jan 17;

While the authorities have been busy culling wild boars in Pasir Ris, at least one resident has been feeding the animals, which may have doubled in population in the area.

The thriving pack of wild boars in Pasir Ris Drive 3 has become the subject of a debate between people for and against wildlife feeding.

A local resident said the pack grew from about 10 to more than 20 animals in the last two years.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it culled 21 boars in the same area last year to try to keep the population under control.

When The Sunday Times visited on Thursday evening, a middle- aged woman had stopped her car at the junction of Pasir Ris Drive 3 and Pasir Ris Farmway 1 and doled out a large pile of rice mixed with canned dog food on the soil-covered slope nearby.

The food attracted about 20 wild boars, which had appeared earlier from the forested patch farther up the slope marked with military-protected area signs.

A pungent animal smell pervaded the air, and grunts and squeals were heard as the boars ate to their hearts' content.

The woman, who declined to be named, said she lived nearby and had fed the animals periodically for close to a year.

"All animals have the right to live... They (the wild boars) should be left alone because they don't bother people," she added before driving off.

Retiree Thomas Abraham, 65, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, first saw the animals about two years ago and has been observing them closely out of interest.

He supports the feeding, saying that the animals get hungry and look skinnier during the dry season.

"We can't let them starve...

"They are no danger to humans and they run away when people come too close," said Mr Abraham.

However, Ms Tricia Kat, 42, an aviation consultant who jogs through the area every other day, said: "If they're wild, you shouldn't give them food. They'll know where to look for it."

She added that the animals are a potential hazard to passing cyclists and runners, who might collide with them.

"Maybe they could build a fence to keep them in... I hope they won't be culled," said Ms Kat.

The number of cases of wild boar-related feedback received by AVA has ballooned over the years, from about 30 in 2014 to 80 in 2015 and 140 last year.

AVA urged the public not to feed wild boars, as it may change their behaviour and make them reliant on humans.

Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, went further, saying there should be an islandwide ban on all wildlife feeding, and not just in the nature reserves.

Other wildlife experts said last year that the increase in wild boar sightings in Punggol and Pasir Ris could be due to urban development reducing their habitat or people drawing them out into the open by feeding them, rather than population growth.

Wild boars were involved in at least two traffic accidents last year when motorcyclists collided with them on the Bukit Timah Expressway and Seletar Expressway.

A boy was hospitalised in May after being attacked by one in Punggol.

Just last week, Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported wild boar sightings in the Housing Board estate in Woodlands Street 41, with residents blaming these on people feeding pigeons and stray dogs.

Meanwhile, the National Parks Board is doing a population study of the wild boars to help manage them.

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