National Parks Board
- Consultation Period:
- 20 Jun 2018 - 18 Jul 2018
- Closed - Summary of Responses
SUMMARY OF RESPONSES TO THE WILD ANIMAL LEGISLATION REVIEW COMMITTEE’S PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE WILD ANIMALS AND BIRDS ACT
The Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA) protects wildlife in Singapore. The Wild Animal Legislation Review Committee (WALRC), chaired by Mr Louis Ng, Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, has completed a public consultation exercise on proposed amendments to the WABA. The WALRC comprises representatives from the nature community, animal welfare community, the Singapore Pest Management Association, the Pet Enterprise and Traders Association of Singapore, the Buddhist Federation, the academic and legal community, and the Nee Soon East Youth Network.
2 The aim of the proposed amendments is to strengthen the protection, preservation and management of wildlife for the purposes of maintaining a healthy ecosystem and safeguarding public safety and health.
3 Members of the public were invited to participate in an online survey held on REACH on proposed amendments to the WABA from 20 June to 18 July 2018. This was accompanied by two face-to-face public consultations held on 4 May 2018 and 16 August 2019. Closed door consultations were also held with pest control companies on 21 June 2018 and with religious organisations on 25 June 2019. A summary of the public feedback to the online survey is set out in the Annex.
4 In general, there was strong support for most of the proposals. Respondents agreed that there was a need to introduce new controls on the feeding and release of wildlife throughout Singapore, stronger penalties for contravening the WABA (especially for repeat and corporate offenders), and stronger regulations on wildlife management companies. Respondents felt that wildlife management companies should be trained to safely and humanely manage wildlife while protecting the safety of the public. This feedback will help guide the development of training and qualification requirements for wildlife management companies.
5 A significant number of respondents felt that certain proposals would be better received via an educational approach rather than legislative amendments. For example, there were concerns that empowering citizens to assist the government in enforcing the WABA could lead to abuses of power, or endanger the volunteers themselves. Respondents also agreed that codes of conduct for nature-related activities, such as wildlife photography and hiking/camping, would be useful, but that these need not be made into laws to be enforced by the authorities. In this regard, the WALRC will work with the community to improve public education on wildlife-related matters.
6 As there were some misconceptions as to the scope of the Act and the WALRC’s proposals, the WALRC would like to make the following clarifications. The WALRC recognises the need to balance wildlife protection with other interests. The proposed amendments will not penalise the responsible feeding of stray cats or dogs. Neither will the amendments criminalise the killing of common pests, such as mosquitoes, cockroaches and house geckos, or other innocuous activities, such as the catching of insects for recreation or education.
7 Mr Ng and the WALRC thank all participants of the consultation exercise for taking time to provide their views and comments. This feedback has been invaluable in shaping the finalised Wild Animals and Birds (Amendment) Bill, which can be viewed here.
8 The Wild Animals and Birds (Amendment) Bill will be tabled in Parliament as a Private Member’s Bill by Mr Ng.
ANNEX - SUMMARY OF PUBLIC FEEDBACK
Feeding and release of wild animals
|70% felt that the feeding of wild animals should not be allowed throughout Singapore.
Reasons cited by respondents for disallowing the feeding of wild animals were that it increased the potential for human-wildlife conflict, disrupted natural feeding behaviours, and involved risk of feeding the wrong foods to animals.
Those who did not support disallowing the feeding of wild animals gave reasons that they wanted responsible feeding of cats and dogs to be allowed, that they wanted to be able to feed wild animals such as birds and butterflies, and that they preferred to teach people not to feed animals through educational efforts.
There were some misconceptions as to the scope of the Act. The current Act and proposed amendments do not and will not penalise the responsible feeding of stray cats or dogs.
|81% of respondents felt that the release of wild animals without a permit should be disallowed throughout Singapore.
Respondents who supported disallowing the release of wild animals without a permit cited reasons including disruption to the eco-system, harm caused to native species, and cruelty as the released animals are unlikely to survive.
Those who did not support the proposal suggested differentiating between releasing native and non-native species. They also cited sensitivity to religious organisations whose practices include the release of animals, and preference for educational efforts to teach people not to release wild animals.
The WALRC held a consultation with religious organisations on 25 June 2019 to explain the proposed amendments to the religious leaders. All the religious leaders who attended the consultation supported the proposed amendments.
Killing, keeping, or capturing wild animals
|61% felt that all wild birds including crows, mynahs and pigeons should also be protected from killing, keeping or capturing without a permit throughout Singapore.
Respondents who agreed with extending the protection to all birds were of the view that all life should be protected and respected.
Reasons given by those who did not support the proposal included that pest birds dirty the environment and spread diseases and that some species of birds are very common and do not need protection.
Some respondents suggested allowing the killing, keeping, or capturing of crows, starlings, mynahs, and pigeons only with a permit.
|90% felt that at least those invertebrates which are globally or nationally endangered should also be protected from killing, keeping or capturing without a permit throughout Singapore.
Those who supported protecting invertebrates gave examples of species such as horseshoe crabs and corals that should be protected.
Respondents who did not support the proposal felt that it would be absurd to protect insects and impossible to enforce, and that there were benefits in allowing the catching of shellfish and insects for leisure and education.
|81% felt that the deployment of nets and traps outside of private premises and nature reserves should be regulated.
Respondents who supported regulating the deployment and usage of nets, traps, and such equipment everywhere outside of one’s own property gave reasons that this would deter poaching, prevent harm to wildlife, and reduce hazards to humans.
Respondents who did not support the proposal suggested making exceptions for traps for research purposes, getting rid of pests, capturing lost pets, and recreation fishing. These respondents also suggested differentiating between various nets and traps.
Enforcement of the WABA
|57% felt that selected citizens should be given the power to assist the government in enforcement.
Those who did not support giving citizens such powers cited concerns such as the abuse of power, vigilantism, and danger for citizens. These respondents preferred for enforcement powers to be left to the authorities.
The WALRC notes the concerns that were strongly expressed by the public in relation to the potential abuse of power. In light of the concerns raised, the Wild Animals and Birds (Amendment) Bill will not give citizens enforcement powers.
This proposal can be studied for future reviews of the WABA.
|66% felt that the current penalties are not adequate to deter individual offenders.
Respondents who felt that the existing penalties are sufficient preferred for offenders to undergo education or community service.
Respondents who did not feel that the existing penalties are sufficient gave the reasons that the value of animals is greater than the current fines and that $1,000 is not a large sum in the present day.
Many respondents who felt that the existing penalties are not sufficient also suggested a possible jail term for offenders.
|90% felt that the penalties for repeat offenders should be more severe.
Some respondents who supported more severe penalties for repeat offenders also suggested a possible jail term for repeat offenders.
|89% felt that the penalties for corporations should be more severe than for individuals.
Some respondents who supported more severe penalties for corporate offenders also suggested a possible jail term for corporate offenders.
Wildlife removal services
|80% felt that organisations need to be specifically trained and licensed if they wish to provide wildlife removal services.
Codes of conduct
|83% supported having a code of conduct for wildlife photography.
Respondents who did not support the proposal suggested that the proposal would be too restrictive for the enjoyment of nature and preferred educational efforts.
|89% supported having a code of conduct for general activities in nature areas.
Respondents who did not support having a code of conduct for general activities in nature against suggested that the proposal would be too restrictive for the enjoyment of nature and preferred educational efforts.
Proposed Amendments to the Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA)
The WABA is the principal piece of legislation that deals with the protection of wild animals and birds outside Singapore’s nature reserves and parks.
The WABA was first passed in 1965. However, new challenges pertaining to the protection of Singapore’s native wildlife have emerged in the recent years that may not be adequately addressed under the current Act.
As such, Mr Louis Ng, Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, will be tabling proposed amendments to the WABA. The amendments - which will then be known as the Wild Animals and Birds Bill - will be tabled in parliament as a Private Members Bill.
To discuss, review and refine the proposed amendments, the Wild Animals Legislation Review Committee (WALRC) was formed in January 2018. The WALRC is made up of representatives and experts from a range of stakeholders, including academia, nature groups, animal management companies and interest groups relevant to the WABA.
Invitation to submit feedback and comments
Members of the public and civil society groups are invited to submit their feedback and comments to the proposed amendments to the WABA via a short survey, below. A face-to-face public consultation was held on 4 May 2018, with another session to be scheduled later in the year.
The public can send in their feedback to the Secretariat of WALRC, Karen Sim at firstname.lastname@example.org , from 20 June 2018 to 18 July 2018 (5 p.m).
Period of consultation: 20 June 2018 – 18 July 2018