The extermination of the rodent infestation near Bukit Batok MRT Station is expected to take up to a week, said pest controllers working on the problem after a video of rats scurrying in the area went viral this week.
In a joint response to media queries, the Housing and Development Board (HDB), the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Jurong Town Council said the feeding of stray dogs in the area needed to be stopped in order for the rodents to be eradicated.
The agencies said that since late last year, the public has been indiscriminately feeding the stray dogs, leaving food scraps that attracted rodents, which gave rise to the infestation.
The infestation was kept under control through multi-agency efforts, including the putting up of fences to keep stray dogs away from common areas and signs that reminded the public not to feed them, said the joint statement. Anti-rodent measures were also carried out.
However, the agencies said the issue resurfaced in the recent months due to continued indiscriminate feeding. “We have intensified our pest control measures to eradicate the rodents and, in response to public complaints on aggressive stray dogs, we are continuing with stray-dog control operations,” said the agencies.
Mr Ricky Yeo, president of Action for Singapore Dogs, said that while there were a small handful of “independent” feeders who do not practise responsible feeding, the rodent infestation should not be blamed on stray feeding. Feeders from his organisation and other local animal welfare groups do practise responsible feeding, he said.
Mr Yeo explained that responsible feeding was a means to capture and sterilise stray dogs and that it involved feeding the dogs only at a certain time at the same spot to create a routine, as dogs are habitual creatures. “Feeders must clean up the place after feeding,” he added.
Jurong GRC Member of Parliament (MP) David Ong said there were no laws against the feeding of stray animals, but added that the public should not do it irresponsibly. He yesterday also attributed the vermin problem to the indiscriminate feeding of stray animals. Food sources at the MRT station could have also attracted the rats, he said.
Mr Ong told TODAY that the issue would be a persistent one. “(We need to) step up vigilance and get (the) public to stop indiscriminate feeding.”
Extermination work began yesterday morning and lasted through the day. Curious onlookers crowded the vicinity as more than 10 exterminators worked to rid the area of the vermin.
Food and beverage establishments in the vicinity said they had been affected by the infestation. Mr Tan Pok Hong, assistant supervisor of a nearby coffee shop, said: “The (rat problem) started one to two months ago; (I) began only to see a lot more recently.”
Despite efforts to trap the rats, Mr Tan said he still found them scurrying around in the morning, gnawing on plastic containers and defecating in dark corners.