Animal culling a 'very small part' of AVA’s overall work: Desmond Lee

Channel NewsAsia 28 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE: The culling of animals is only a “very small part” of the overall work of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), and it does not track the expenditure it incurs on doing so, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.

Answering a question in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 28), Mr Lee said AVA takes a multi-pronged approach to manage the animal population and mitigate health and safety concerns. It first undertakes a professional assessment of potential threats that animals might pose to public health and safety, he explained, and AVA will have to act if there “significant health and safety concerns.”

“Where feasible, it will work with stakeholders, including the animal welfare groups and organisations like Wildlife Reserves Singapore to relocate and rehome these animals,” said Mr Lee. “Culling is used only as a last resort.”

In response to a clarification from MP Louis Ng, Mr Lee added that AVA’s total budget for animal management operations for 2016 was S$800,000.

Mr Lee said that AVA will continue to conduct relevant studies and research to inform its policies, and facilitate a “science-based approach” to animal management. One example of this, he said, was in Nov 2015, where AVA engaged a team of local and overseas academics to start a three-year stray dog study. “This study will estimate the stray dog population in Singapore, look at the ecological and biological aspects of stray dogs, and determine the efficacy of various population management options like sterilisation.”

Mr Lee added that the community also needs to do their part in helping to reduce “potential animal-human conflicts”. “For example, if everyone practises responsible pet ownership and refrains from feeding strays, the number of stray animals will fall and present a much smaller problem.”

“AVA has been and will continue to work with various animal welfare groups on public education for responsible pet ownership.”

- CNA/lc

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