SINGAPORE – The Government spent $800 million on animal management measures last year, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee on Tuesday (Feb 28).
The amount includes spending on animal culling, but Mr Lee told Parliament that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) does not track this amount “as this is only a small part of AVA’s overall work.”
Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), had asked for the costs of culling and if the ministry expects spending in this area to go up over the next three years. His questions follow a lively debate on the issue last week, which was prompted by the culling of 24 chickens in Sin Ming.
Mr Lee said he was unable to project if culling costs would increase.
“It depends on the risks and on whether the human-animal conflicts rise or fall and whether public education helps mitigate that along with the animal welfare groups’ efforts in working with us to rehome animals,” he said.
He also reiterated that culling is used only as a last resort, and that the AVA will continue to conduct relevant studies to “inform its policies and facilitate a science-based approach to animal management.”
He cited how AVA engaged a team of local and overseas academics in November 2015 to carry out a three-year study on stray dogs.
The study will estimate the stray dog population here, look at the ecological and biological aspects of stray dogs, and determine the efficacy of various population management options such as sterilisation.
The AVA has also been conducting similar studies on birds, as well as trials to test the effectiveness of various bird deterrent methods, he said.
Mr Lee added that welfare groups have been “pitching in” by conducting sterilisation on Pulau Ubin and Jurong Island, for example.
He also urged the community to do its part to reduce animal-human conflicts, saying: “If everyone practices responsible pet ownership and refrains from feeding strays, the number of stray animals will fall and present a much smaller problem.”