Dept proposes tagging imported pets


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003

BY HILARY CHIEW

PETALING JAYA: In a move to curb the indiscriminate disposal of pets of foreign origin, the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has proposed the tagging of such species. 

The department’s enforcement director, Misliah Mohamad Basir, said the proposal had been submitted to the Science, Technology and Environment Ministry for consideration as part of the amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which is scheduled to be tabled in Parliament this year. 

The tagging of non-native animals will either take the form of a microchip embedded in the skin or a simple ring on the feet of birds. The microchip and tag will carry a registration number of the owner. 

“This is the first step in regulating the introduction of foreign species into our environment.  

“The tagging programme will help us trace the owner and take the necessary action. 

“Should anyone find an ‘alien’ species in our parks, lakes or jungle, they can bring it to us and we can track down the irresponsible owner once the system is introduced,” she told The Star yesterday. 

Misliah said the programme would have a deterrent effect on would-be offenders and encourage a higher level of responsibility in pet ownership. 

The tagging would either be carried out at the country of export or at the point of entry, she said, adding that the mechanisms were being fine-tuned. 

However, it was unclear whether existing owners of foreign species would be required to surrender their animals to be tagged or implanted with the microchip. 

Last July, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore amended the republic’s Animals and Birds Act to make it an offence to abandon an animal without reasonable cause. A person convicted of this offence can be fined up to S$10,000 (RM21,000) or jailed up to 12 months. 

Singapore's Straits Times reported last Thursday that the government was considering doing the same for domesticated pets to overcome the headache of about 19,000 abandoned dogs and cats every year.  

The abandoning of a foreign species, a negative effect from the flourishing pet trade, is a worldwide concern where countries may spend billions of dollars to eradicate it and rehabilitate the ecosystem – a recent incident being the snakehead fish (locally known as haruan) in the United States. 

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