I WRITE with regard to the culling of crows as carried out by the National Environment Agency (NEA). I live in an HDB estate in the northern part of Singapore where the culling of crows is carried out about once a month. The amount of noise the gunshots generate is enough to startle anyone, especially since no warning or notice is given beforehand.
There are a number of schools in the vicinity. Culling has even been carried out directly in front of a primary school, while school children were on their way home.
While the shooter may be a marksman, I find it discomforting that the NEA has allowed firearms to be used in such locations.
The culling process was started in the 1980s to reduce the crow population. I strongly believe that the numbers have dropped significantly given the culling process and our rapid urbanisation.
It is time the NEA reconsider the status of crows as pests. Apart from the population numbers, which the NEA should make public to justify its actions, the other contributing factors for the culling have been the supposed noise from the birds and their being scavengers. Crows, however, are not the only scavengers. Any bird that becomes accustomed to living in densely-populated areas with few natural preys resorts to scavenging.
It is common to see sparrows and mynahs eating the leftovers in eateries and leaving behind their droppings. Is this not also a nuisance and unhygienic?
In addition, crows do not breed as much as has been mistakenly repeated. They brood once a year and only an average of three eggs are hatched successfully. In comparison, pigeons brood as many as eight times a year.
We should also not be paranoid about the possible spread of bird flu, which is more likely to be spread by migratory birds. Pigeons are known to spread diseases as well.
I am not asking the NEA to switch its culling focus to other intrusive birds but pointing out the flawed rationality in its programme. If the issue is about aggressiveness or incessant noise, then the NEA should only act on such instances of disturbances.
I do not wish to launch into a plea of humanity against the killing of animals but it is indeed inhumane to be shooting birds when alternative methods are available to deal with them. One method is for people to be more responsible in the disposal of trash and in the clearing of leftover food in eateries.
The real cause for the population explosion of birds, if any, are these food sources. Another alternative method is to install plastic owls to scare the crows away.
If the NEA is pressing on with its culling programme and the culling has not reduced the bird population, then obviously there is a fundamental flaw in its methodology.
I am also appalled that an annual crow- hunting competition is held by the Singapore Gun Club and endorsed by the NEA. This seriously goes against the very values of the NEA as an environmental-protection agency.