An Obnoxious Invader that’s a Threat to our Wildlife

Our choice:

THIS
OR
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AND

The Indian Myna has been rated by the World Conservation Union as one of the world’s 100 most invasive species. It has been rated an Extreme Threat in Australia and won the dubious distinction of receiving the Pest of Australia award in the Wild Watch Quest for Pests 2005. It beat the cane toad and feral cat to get this award!

A native of India with a natural range from the Middle East to Malaysia, the Indian Myna has now been introduced all over the world, rapidly adapting to new environments. It was deliberately introduced into Canberra in the 1960s and has spread widely throughout the Canberra region. It has been calculated by the eminent ANU myna researcher, Dr Chris Tidemann, that there are around 250 Indian Mynas for every square kilometre in Canberra.

Noisy, territorially aggressive, and not afraid of humans, mynas hang out in flocks from 5 to 20, and can be very long-lived. They can raise two broods of young each year, and spend their nights in noisy communal roosts.

These birds are seriously bad news for our native birds and other small animals. They are fiercely territorial and use their superior numbers to aggressively defend their territory. During the breeding season they take over tree hollows from native birds and small animals (such as sugar gliders) after harassing and evicting them. They build and defend several nests during the breeding season although they only use one nest — this excludes native hollow nesting birds and animals from those nesting sites. They kill chicks and destroy the eggs of native birds.

Add to all this, they hang around cafes and restaurants, walking all over tables in search of left-over food. It isn’t hard to see the potential public health risk they pose.

They can also pose possible fire risks to buildings through making large scrappy nests under eaves and roof lines from sticks and any available rubbish they find.

So what can we do about this undesirable invader?

Some simple things include:

A trapping program for Indian Mynas is an essential part of any strategy to control these pests. This is perfectly legal for exotic species but not for native species, and any trapping and euthanising should only be done in line with good animal welfare principles. Trapping has proven highly successful in Canberra: one member of the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group Inc trapped 665 in his backyard over six months while another member captured 40 mynas and 37 starlings in his first week of trapping.

Let’s not kid ourselves. While we probably won’t ever get rid of Indian Mynas, unless we start to reduce and control their numbers we risk losing many of our native birds — particularly parrots. One has to only go to Cairns or Fiji to see the impact of mynas on native bird numbers. However we can at least give our native birds and animals a better chance to resist these exotic invaders by controlling their numbers and the range they inhabit. If we don’t do anything about Indian Mynas we will find less and less native birds and small mammals in our region and more and more Indian Mynas.