Leave wild boars alone, say residents

They say animals aren't a nuisance; others against 'crossbow culling' option
Siau Ming En Straits Times 15 Jun 12;

RESIDENTS living on the fringes of the Lower Peirce forest, where wild boars roam, want the National Parks Board (NParks) to leave the animals alone.

'I hardly see them and they haven't been a nuisance at all,' said Mrs Laura Loke, a 57-year-old retiree who has lived in the area for more than 10 years.

In fact, sightings of the creatures are part and parcel of the charm of living near the forest, said 56-year-old Bernard Teo, a semi-retired businessman.

'When you buy a house here, you should already be prepared to see some of these wild animals; it's all part of nature,' he added.

The duo's sentiments typify the views of 20 residents living in the landed homes along Old Upper Thomson Road that face the forest.

They were interviewed yesterday on the NParks move to look at curbing the growing population of wild boars in the Lower Peirce area. Culling them with crossbows is one of the options being considered.

The issue has also generated a buzz among other people, with several readers living elsewhere writing to The Straits Times Forum page to call for a more humane solution.

NParks estimates that there are 100 wild boars in the forested Lower Peirce area alone. But residents say they are rarely seen, appearing only at night in herds of seven to nine boars.

Occasionally, they can be seen crossing the road separating the forest and landed properties.

'Cars driving down Old Upper Thomson Road sometimes startle them and they would scurry across the road,' said Ms Dawn Chua, a 29-year-old housewife.

The possibility of using crossbows to curb the growing number of wild boars was raised at a meeting NParks had with animal welfare groups last month.

But most of the groups were not in favour of it.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore says it plans to meet NParks by the end of this month to offer a plan that involves rounding up the animals to sedate and euthanise them with chemicals.

The call for 'a more viable, sustainable and humane solution' was also made by retired lawyer Irene Low. The 52-year-old's Forum letter on Wednesday carried 57 signatures.

When contacted yesterday, she expressed her disappointment at the agency's proposal.

'I asked why? The equation is a very disturbing one, we see a wild animal and we kill,' Ms Low said.

Another letter writer, Dr Chong Shin Min, said 'more research is needed to determine the baseline population figure and the roles wild boars play in our reserve ecosystems'.

The area's MP, Mr Inderjit Singh of Ang Mo Kio GRC, said the issue has not been discussed with him.

'But now that it has come up, I will be going down to talk to residents to find out how serious is the situation,' he added.

Additional reporting by Cherie Thio