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Euthanasia not the answer to human-animal encounters that go awry

The National Parks Board (NParks) has said its decision to euthanise a wild boar that had run amok in Yishun last month was done as a “last resort”, and cited public safety as a reason behind the animal being "euthanised humanely".

Euthanasia not the answer to human-animal encounters that go awry

An advisory on wild boars was seen in the lift of Block 652, Yishun Avenue 4, near Yishun Park, on March 10, 2022.

The National Parks Board (NParks) has said its decision to euthanise a wild boar that had run amok in Yishun last month was done as a “last resort”, and cited public safety as a reason behind the animal being "euthanised humanely".

This is a misnomer. An animal is euthanised humanely if it is suffering or in pain because of injury or illness.

I am sure veterinary surgeons who perform euthanasia will not appreciate this term being thrown about. They have chosen the burden of carrying out this procedure with sometimes detrimental mental and emotional effects. This term is doing them a disservice.

Relying on euthanasia as a “last resort” diminishes other long-term efforts that are required to manage the issue of non-ideal human-wildlife encounters.

We should have stronger and more stringent enforcement of illegal wildlife feeding. This will be tackling the root of the problem of what made them habituated to more urban spaces in the first place.

Good waste management and wildlife-proofing in the estate should also be the norm. But these measures take time and effort to come to fruition or before the effects can be seen.

If out of sheer bad luck, a similar incident is to happen in another densely populated part of Singapore in a few months, will the wild pig be euthanised, too?

Encouragingly, NParks has previously indicated that more humane measures such as relocation are being considered to tackle this issue.

With that, I think animal activists would be more assured of a fairer future for these pigs.

Again, this measure needs research and studies to be done on the various wild boar herds and habitats in Singapore to ensure that a wild boar can be relocated successfully and smoothly.

It is with the hope that no quick fix is resorted to before this is done properly.

Wild boars do not attack indiscriminately. But they do charge indiscriminately.

They are prey animals with poor eyesight and skittish behaviour. Sometimes at the slightest noise, they scamper off.

Due to wildlife feeding, they become used to venturing out of their forested habitat and into urban spaces in search of easy and delicious sources of human food.

Euthanasia can be used to represent natural predator pressure on these wild boars, but at the very least, sufficient research and data must be gleaned from rigorous fieldwork to ensure that this decision is not arrived at hastily.

Isn’t this what the Government’s City in Nature vision entails?

For animals to be close to us and us, to them?

When such an incident happens and someone gets unfortunately injured, the animal is put down.

We should focus on true coexistence and teaching and raising awareness of wildlife etiquette even to the most wildlife-averse of the population.

We have our work cut out for us as we cannot force everyone to be open to having wildlife at their doorstep in this City in Nature.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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