NParks to be lead agency for animal and wildlife management
Starting April 1, the National Parks Board (NParks) will be the lead agency for animal and wildlife management, as well as animal and plant health.
This comes after an amendment Bill to transfer the non-food plant and animal-related functions from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to NParks was passed yesterday.
This follows the establishment of the Singapore Food Agency, which will take over AVA's food safety and food security responsibilities.
The AVA will thereafter cease to exist.
Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of National Development (MND), told Parliament that the move will bring several benefits.
NParks, a statutory board under MND, will now provide a one-stop service on animal management and animal welfare issues and a new Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) will be formed as the main touch-point.
The AVS will take on AVA's current role as the first responder for animal-related feedback, whether issues occur in parks, nature reserves or other parts of Singapore.
NParks will also take over the existing Animal Response Centre from AVA, which members of the public can contact if they encounter wildlife like snakes or wild boars.
Ms Sun added that NParks will be better positioned to manage human-animal issues, which are becoming increasingly complex.
It will also be able to better detect and respond to zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans, as the changes will allow NParks to look at all potential points of incursion.
Ms Sun said: "Disease response can also be enhanced with the consolidation of NParks' existing expertise in ecology and animal population studies, with AVA's expertise in veterinary science and diagnostic testing."
NParks will also take over the administration of the Animals and Birds Act, giving its officers the power to take enforcement action against animal abusers or those who do not take care of their pets.
Ms Sun said it will undertake a holistic review of the regulatory approach for animal-related businesses such as pet boarders, pet breeders and veterinary centres. - KOK YUFENG