Singapore

Bukit Batok hillside cleared to drive out rodents and stray dogs

Bukit Batok hillside cleared to drive out rodents and stray dogs
A swathe of trees and vegetation has been cleared from the forested hill next to Bukit Batok MR T Station to remove rat burrows and rid stray dogs of hiding places. The vegetation, however, will be replanted. The site made headlines in December for an infestation that saw the hill crawling with rodents. Photo: Tristan Loh
Published: 11:13 PM, March 16, 2015
Updated: 12:37 AM, March 17, 2015

SINGAPORE — A broad swathe of trees and vegetation has been cleared from the forested hill next to Bukit Batok MRT station in an attempt to remove rat burrows, as well as rid stray dogs of possible hiding places.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB), which manages the state land, confirmed this today (March 16) in response to media queries over the denuded hillside, which made headlines last December for a rat infestation that saw the hill crawling with rodents.

At the time, the HDB and other government agencies as well as the Jurong Town Council had said the feeding of stray dogs in the area needed to be stopped in order for the rodents to be eradicated. The food scraps left behind by people “indiscriminately feeding” dogs had attracted rodents, they said, an observation that drew the ire of animal welfare groups, which felt it cast the actions of responsible stray feeders in an unfavourable light.

The infestation was declared over by pest-controller Star Pest Control in January, after the company, among other things, set traps to catch the rats and installed surveillance cameras on a few occasions to monitor for rat activity. More than 230 rats were caught.

Contacted today, Star Pest Control the vegetation was cleared by the HDB after the firm had withdrawn operations from the site.

In a statement, the HDB said the “bare” portion of the land is temporary, and “re-turfing” efforts are being carried out. The clearance would allow the HDB to better maintain the land, the agency said.

Shopkeepers whose shops are located near the once-infested plot of land said that rats can still be seen scurrying across their entrances from time to time. One shop assistant at a mobile phone store, who would only be identified as Mr Tan, said the situation now was not “significantly different” from before.

However, cleaner Rosli Sumbri, 55, who cleans a stretch of road along the hill on alternate days, said the situation has improved tremendously. He used to see hordes of rats running rampant in the empty land. “Now, there is [are] no more rats,” he said.

Mdm Ng Lee Teng, an administrative assistant who lives in a HDB flat opposite the hill, said she used to chance upon rats when she passed the area on her way home from work. “With the vegetation cleared, I don’t see them any more,” said Mdm Ng, 51.