‘Noisy chickens’ in Sin Ming Avenue put down after residents’ complaints

TOH EE MING Today Online 1 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE — The authorities have put down chickens that had been roaming freely around Thomson View and Blocks 452 to 454 Sin Ming Avenue, after receiving complaints about the noise they made.

In response to TODAY’s queries — following reports of the move by the Chinese media — the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said that it received 20 complaints from residents about the free-ranging chickens last year, most of them related to noise.

The chickens were probably from the nearby forested area, and TODAY understands the chickens euthanised were not the red junglefowl, which resemble chickens and have been identified as an endangered species.

“The chickens are humanely euthanised, as relocation options are not available in land-scarce Singapore,” said an AVA spokesperson yesterday.

The spokesperson also noted that the authority “conducts surveillance and control operations to safeguard public health and mitigate nuisance issues”.

It would also carry out checks on private residential premises in response to feedback on the keeping of pet chickens, to determine if they are kept in accordance with its guidelines.

Under the AVA’s Animals and Birds Act, people are not allowed to keep more than 10 non-commercial poultry, including chickens, in private residential premises.

“AVA will take enforcement action on owners who keep more than 10 poultry. We will also advise owners on responsible pet ownership, and to adopt measures that would help mitigate noise nuisances caused by pet poultry,” said the spokesperson.

TODAY’s interviews with 10 residents at Sin Ming Avenue yesterday drew a mixed response, with seven lamenting the chickens’ demise, while three felt that the free-roaming fowl were indeed noisy.

Polytechnic student Marc Loh, 18, said he had been hearing the chickens’ crows since he was a little boy, but they had never bothered him or his family.

“I don’t have any complaints about them,” he told TODAY as he and several friends tried to take a picture of a crowing chicken perched on a tree.

Housekeeper Stella Lourdes, 62, expressed disappointment when told of the news, adding: “It’s so nice to see them, with the little chicks following them. The kindergarten (even) brings the children here sometimes to show them the chickens.”

Ms Agnes Choy, who has lived in the area for about 20 years, said neither the chickens nor their crows bothered her. “I think it’s sometimes quite cute to see them. It’s quite like the kampung days,” said the 36-year-old, who works in the real estate industry.

For taxi driver John Lee, 63, the chickens are “quite interesting” and “make the place more colourful and lively”.

However, 63-year-old Ms Stella Hosoucheng was among those residents who said they were not fond of the chickens.

“The noise and they fly! I can hear them crowing early in the morning … and obviously I don’t like them,” said Ms Hosoucheng, who works in customer service.

Expressing similar sentiments, a 71-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Early in the morning, (they are) crowing, sometimes in the afternoon ... I think they should be removed, because they disturb the environment. Sometimes, in the evening, they keep on crowing, making a nuisance (of themselves).”

Although the chickens did not really bother Ms Jenet Tan, 40, she still felt that they should be removed.

“It’s sad to know (that the chickens had been put down), but I think it’s good to actually put some of them down. If not, the (fowl) population will get bigger and bigger, and it has to be controlled,” said Ms Tan, who also works in customer service.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JEONG HONGBIN


Culling of 24 chickens in Sin Ming ruffles feathers
TOH EE MING Today Online 2 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE — As a debate flared up yesterday over free-ranging chickens that were put down by the authorities in the Sin Ming area, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) revealed that it received 250 complaints islandwide on free-ranging chickens last year, and they were mostly about noise-related nuisances caused by the birds.

Some of the areas in which chickens were found roaming include Pasir Ris Street 52 and Riverina View near the boundary of Pasir Ris Park.

The authority also disclosed that it put down 24 chickens that were wandering around Thomson View and Blocks 452 to 454 Sin Ming Avenue, after getting 20 complaints last year from residents there, also mainly about noise.

Responding to queries from TODAY, the AVA added that the free-ranging chickens that are sometimes seen on mainland Singapore are not red junglefowl — an endangered species — though some may resemble them.

“Free-ranging chickens can pose a potential threat to public health, especially if their population is left unchecked. There is a likelihood of an incursion of bird flu into Singapore, as bird flu is endemic in the region,” the AVA said.

The news of the culling in Sin Ming sparked an outcry yesterday, with some residents chiming in online to say that the chickens there had not caused any major disturbances.

Facebook user Pang Jun Heng said that he has been living in the area for 16 years, and “the chickens there just mind their own business and roam around”. “I walk past them almost on a daily basis, they don’t attack anyone or make lots of noise.”

Mr Louis Ng, founder of Animal Concerns Research & Education Society, echoed the views of many online users to say that the killing was the “worst solution”. He warned against such a “knee-jerk” response and added that other measures could have been taken, such as getting people to adopt the chickens, relocating them to Pulau Ubin for rearing, or mediating with the residents.

Mr Ng also stressed the need to get an “accurate sense of sentiments on the ground” to find out if there is an overwhelming majority that still want the chickens there, a point also made by online users.

Mr Ben Lee, founder of nature conservation group Nature Trekker, said that unlike the culling of wild boars, which uproot soil, and aggressive monkeys, which might attack people, the culling of chickens is less justifiable here because they did not cause any serious issues.

However, Assistant Professor Frank Rheindt, from the National University of Singapore’s department of biological sciences, believed that the authorities did the right thing from an environmental perspective.

He explained that it would not be feasible to relocate the chickens to Pulau Ubin — which has a population of red junglefowl — because it would result in a “contamination of the gene pool of the wild stock of junglefowl that we’re lucky to still have”.

“Wild junglefowl are still very precious, and conservationists want to preserve them in their wild state as best as they can. If you create a situation where domesticated or hybrid chickens can inter-breed or hybridise wild junglefowl, it would certainly have a giant effect on the native junglefowl roaming (in Pulau Ubin).”

He added: “Every day in Singapore and across the world, hundreds of thousands of chickens are killed for human consumption, so I do not believe there is a valid ‘animal rights’ argument against the culling.”

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