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SINGAPORE: A crow-trapping operation in Toa Payoh drew the ire of some individuals on Thursday (Feb 23) evening, with shouts of “crows are innocent” and “animal cruelty” heard directed at the trappers.

In footage of the operation obtained and recorded by CNA near blocks 10B and 14 Lorong 7 Toa Payoh, several people wearing National Parks Board (NParks) contractor vests can be seen setting up a trap consisting of netting and balloons.

The balloons are used to lift the netting to a significant height.

One crow is subsequently trapped and removed from the netting while people are heard shouting in the background.

One person yells “murderer”, while another is heard saying: “Shut up, lah.”

According to witnesses CNA spoke to, NParks said that the operation was a trial and it was the first time that such a trapping method was being utilised.

The witnesses said the shouting was coming from residents living on the middle to high floors of the Housing Board blocks.

Some of these residents threw objects at the balloons, they said, adding that they also noticed green lasers used during the operation. 

In response to a CNA query, NParks director of wildlife management and outreach How Choon Beng said: “The National Parks Board has received 10 cases of crow-related feedback at Lorong 7 Toa Payoh since November 2022.

“On Feb 23, 2023, while conducting crow trapping operations, NParks staff needed to engage three members of the public who objected to population control.”

Mr How also reiterated NParks’ stance on crows and the board’s approach to managing the crow population in Singapore.

“House crows are not native and are an invasive species in Singapore, posing a threat to our native biodiversity,” he said.

“Management of invasive bird species requires a holistic and science-based approach, incorporating the removal of food sources, habitat modification, population control strategies such as nest removal and crow trapping, and studies to understand the population ecology of the birds such as their roosting patterns and movements.”

“NParks ensures that population control is carried out in a humane and safe manner and does not result in animal cruelty by benchmarking against internationally accepted and science-based standards when choosing suitable depopulation methods,” he added.

“Thus, we adopt the more humane method of trapping and subsequent euthanasia to manage the crow population.”

A petition calling on NParks to cease the culling of crows has been set up on Change.org by an individual named Stefanie See.

According to the petition, “NParks engaged a company BirdRIP to set up a huge net measuring around 15 storeys tall, with four helium balloons”.

Passers-by watch as crow-trapping operations take place in the vicinity of Lorong 7 Toa Payoh on Feb 23, 2023. (Photo: CNA/Clara Ho)

The petition also claimed that these contractors began using “laser harassment” to disperse the crows and were ultimately able to trap one bird.

“The contractors then lowered the net and yanked the bird out of the net. This concluded the end of said ‘trial’ by NParks,” the petition said.

The petition called on NParks to find alternative solutions to controlling the crow population in Singapore. As of 9.30pm on Friday, it had about 80 signatures. 

CNA has contacted BirdRIP for more information.

Last week, NParks said that it was taking steps to reduce the crow population around Bishan Street 12 after several people were attacked by the birds there.

In response to this, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) said that while culling is a quick way to address complaints from the public, there are better ways of controlling the crow population in Singapore.

These include reducing the birds’ access to food and modifying their habitats.