SINGAPORE — 682 enforcement notices were issued for pigeon feeding offences over the past three years, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development Sun Xueling on Wednesday (8 May).
Of these, 330 such notices were issued last year, with 226 and 126 issued in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
“The NParks takes measures to deter the feeding of pigeons, including installing cameras and conducting surveillance at identified feeding hotspots,” said Sun in response to a question from Mountbatten SMC Member of Parliament (MP) Lim Biow Chuan.
In addition, the NParks works with town councils to put up notices asking for information about feeding activities in order to carry out enforcement operations in a “more targeted manner”, she added.
Lim asked about the number of such offences over the past three years and other measures that the ministry can further introduce to deter them.
Sun stressed that public education also is an important strategy.
“The NParks, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the town councils work together to educate residents about the environmental health and hygiene issues caused by pigeon feeding,” said Sun.
This is done through advisories, posters and outreach events, she added. The agencies also work with the Municipal Services Office to develop targeted public education messages and materials.
Community and grassroots leaders can also help to spread the message, she said.
“To reduce the availability of food sources for pigeons, the NEA works with food centres and coffee shops in HDB estates to ensure good food waste management and enforces against littering,” said Sun.
“We also need the help of residents to play their part by helping to maintain the overall cleanliness of the estates.”
In response, Lim pointed out that he has received “many complaints” about the presence of pigeons in public spaces and asked if NParks can do more to boost enforcement for pigeon feeding offences, such as employing more manpower to step up patrols and increasing penalties.
“When town councils talk to the residents, many a time they are ignored. There should be greater enforcement to send the signal that feeding of pigeons is (illegal)...and causes health risks for many other people,” said Lim.
Currently, those caught feeding pigeons in public places can be fined up to S$500 under the Animals and Birds (Pigeons) Rules.
Sun also shared details on a high-rise littering pigeon feeding pilot carried out in Yio Chu Kang from May to October last year, where cameras were deployed not just to identify the offenders, but to disseminate their captured images to increase community awareness. House-to-house visits were also made to affected blocks.
In this pilot, authorities also worked with the local Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to engage vulnerable and/or recalcitrant offenders, she added.
“We also find that sometimes, some of these offenders have other issues that they are dealing with and if we are able to work with the community, we are able to reach out to their families and friends to deter such behaviour from them,” said Sun.
Responding to West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har’s query on when the pilot would be rolled out islandwide, Sun noted that its initial results has been “quite promising” and would look into it further on how to roll it out to different locations.
“As we understand, pigeon feeding issues are sometimes quite local-based. It depends on the local infrastructure, demographics of the residents who live in certain areas, habits and also interactions with food centres in the local food communities,” said Sun.
So while the pilot seems to have work quite well in Yio Chu Kang, it is necessary to work closely with MPs and grassroots advisors to adapt it to communities in different areas, she added.
Separately, Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng noted that culling is not a solution to the issue, but a problem, as it results in a bigger population of pigeons.
In response, Sun said, “Currently, population control measures are undertaken at the town council level. (Their) first option is probably not to cull...Culling is just but one part of it that I think people would rather much not like to do if they don’t have to.”
The NParks is looking at a variety of other measures to control the pigeon population, including the use of contraceptives, and trying them out, Sun said. “We will try to roll it out to different communities and see how we can develop a holistic solution for the issue,” she added.
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