According to TODAY, 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.
AVA also disclosed to TODAY 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.
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 in defence of its action to cull the chickens.
However, AVA’s reply is so similar to those of ministers in Singapore, giving a non-answer to a question. What the public want to know if whether those chickens that were culled are red junglefowl and not what species the other free-ranging chickens belong to.
According to people who are familiar with the chickens that are free-ranging at the area, those are not the domestic chickens that AVA was alluding in their statements. Videos of the chickens around the area also indicate this.
While TODAY quoted Mr Louis Ng, founder of Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) and Mr Ben Lee, founder of nature conservation group Nature Trekker to say that the culling of the chickens are not justified, it also quoted Assistant Professor Frank Rheindt, from the National University of Singapore’s department of biological sciences who believed that the authorities did the right thing from an environmental perspective.
The professor 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.”
The statements by the professor do not make sense on various counts. For the contamination of gene pool, we do not even know if the natural environment of Pulau Ubin will still exist for the upcoming ten years, given the aggressive expansion nature of the Singapore Government, what more to be concerned about the gene pool of the wild stock. As for the chickens for consumption, it is puzzling to hear such arguments, notwithstanding the fact that he is a professor in NUS that two distinct species of chickens can be lumped together as such.
The AVA spokesperson had earlier stated that the chickens were humanely euthanised as relocation options are not available in land-scarce Singapore, noting that the authority “conducts surveillance and control operations to safeguard public health and mitigate nuisance issues”. However, netizens have been quick to point out that the reasons provided by AVA is illogical and the culling is simply a kneejerk reaction to a few complaints.
Below are some of the comments that have been posted on TOC’s Facebook:
“It must have been more than 10 years ago that I’ve hung out with this chicken gang at Sin Ming Industrial Estate. My dad owned one of the car mechanic workshops there. I remember they’ll run around the workshop area and big brawly mechanics would finish work at 6pm and feed/play with them. It was such a cute sight to watch. Some of these men had broken families… It was peaceful. People found solace in them. I also remember the chickens being a nuisance at times. Mechanics would sometimes screech to a halt and almost hit a chicken crossing the road, whilst they test drove the cars they had just fixed. They were quickly forgiven tho… Nobody could be mad at them. Once, a big dog tried to chase them and all the mechanics came out to tame the dog and save the chickens! We were a community and we protected each other. Chickens ignite the kampong spirit.
Then 20 people complained. And we forget about the 1000 people who loved them.” – Juliet Low
“I used to drive by Sin Ming on my way home from work and would point out to my wife about these chicken running free around the area. We always had a good laugh and loved it that these chicken were allowed to roam free in our densely populated city. My wife was worried that some idiots would complain about them and the authority would find some way to get rid of them. Now that this has happened, I really feel sad that we cannot even share our space with these fine creatures. We do not own the Earth. We co-habit it with thousands of other living things. People should stop being so selfish. Damn, am I upset over the killing of these birds.” – Chan Kok Weng
“Was wondering where did the fowls disappeared to. They were murdered! Over some lame reasons??? 20 complaints??? Out of how many residents in the area? How about euthanising those 20 idiots! Car not noisy? Bus not noisy? Hell lah….your neighbours not noisy? Go live in some god forsaken shit hole instead lah. So rare to have some form of wildlife in this concrete jungle and we killed it because of 20 idiots? Is this the type of country we want? Damn sad.” – Chris Quek
“For all our govt and agencies boosting about eco-friendly and loving nature… This just exposes them for the hypocrites that they are.
No suitable location is utter rubbish. The real reason is simply euthanasia is cheaper and faster way to’solve’ this complain which should have been ignored in the first place.” –
“They’ve been there for years!! And they choose the Rooster year to cull them??!! Noise??!! That area is filled with motor vehicle workshops!! Shheeeeesh!!! Hearing a Rooster crow is a wonderful thing. It’s a connection to our rural past. Just look how majestic that rooster is.
This just does’nt augment well at all. In the Year of the Rooster!!” – Richard Lincoln
“Those chickens have been around for many years, and have been a icon of sin ming, even featured on TV before.” – Dhammadassi Andrew P
“Ridiculous reason for euthanising these chickens. Does this mean humans who make too much noise should be “euthanized” too? The lack of tolerance in the society is appalling.” – Cassandra Ong