No diseases of concern detected in common bird species in Singapore: Koh Poh Koon

Channel NewsAsia 10 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE: There has been no detection of diseases of concern in common bird species in Singapore thus far, said Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of National Development (MND) Koh Poh Koon on Wednesday (Jan 10).

He was responding to a parliamentary question relating to wild birds in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates.

The issue took centre-stage early last year after the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) culled 24 free-roaming chickens in the Sin Ming area, over concerns they could transmit the bird flu virus to humans.

The animal health agency then said that the chickens could catch the disease through direct contact with wild birds or through their droppings.

To control the population of wild birds like crows, mynahs and pigeons in HDB estates, AVA works with town councils to implement measures such as bird deterrent gels and fogging trees to discourage birds from roosting near residential areas, said Dr Koh.

“AVA also works with NEA (National Environment Agency) and town councils to ensure proper disposal of food waste at hawker centres and also within residential areas. This reduces the availability of food that will attract the birds.”

“Third, AVA works with NParks and town councils to prune trees within the estates to deter birds from roosting in those trees.”

The authority also conducts regular surveillance and inspects pet shops selling birds to the general public to ensure they are properly looked after and in good health. And local poultry farms are required to put in place proper bio-security measures to prevent any disease incursion.

“Members of the public are advised to not handle dead birds or have direct contact with bird droppings,” said Dr Koh.

He added that AVA has considered the suggestion to use sonic systems to deter birds.

“However, the effects are usually temporary and birds have been known to acclimatise to the sound. Such sonic systems can also be quite loud which reduces their suitability for deployment in our dense residential areas,” Dr Koh explained.

“The public also has an important role to play in curbing the bird population by maintaining the overall cleanliness of the environment and not feeding the wild birds ... Enforcement actions will be taken against those who do not comply.”

Source: CNA/jo

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