President's Report
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President’s 2017-18 Report

The following is the 2017-18 President’s Report for the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group Inc (CIMAG).

2017-18 was a year with challenges: it is probably reasonable to say that CIMAG and the overall myna control program effort across eastern Australia is at a crossroad, maybe at a tipping point.

I would like to first recognize the work of the CIMAG Committee: Ray Barge, Ross Dalton, Andy Fuller, Bruce Lindenmayer, Greg Flowers, and Marg Peachey for their work on behalf of the group over the past year. I also wish to record our appreciation for the support and work of our Patron, Prof Tony Peacock. I must also acknowledge Graham Gliddon for the many hours of work he continues to do each month in collating the capture data, Ryu Callaway for managing the Membership Database in 2017-18 and David Cook for maintaining the CIMAG website and chatlines.

On the positive side, this past year has seen the continuation of the effort by committed CIMAG members. That effort has seen over 4000 mynas and almost 500 starlings removed from the local environment. It is the efforts of our concerned members in spreading the message about the threats posed by mynas and in trapping that has been the basis for the Group’s collective success. So a big “thankyou” to you all.

The program continues to receive widespread public support in the region and support from the ACT Government. The people doing Community Service Orders under ACT Corrective Services continue to produce high quality traps for us. Canberrans and people from the region are continuing to join the group and do their bit to reduce the impact of mynas in their patch.

But these positive aspects are being tempered: by reports of greater numbers of mynas around our area; by observations of mynas breeding in nature reserves; by lower numbers of mynas being caught – almost 1000 less than the previous year; by more frequent reports of trap shyness and difficulty in luring mynas into traps; by fewer people seeking traps – only 89 new trappers in 2017-18 compared to 136 in the previous year; by fewer people providing monthly trapping data indicating that the overall trapping effort has declined, perhaps as a result of complacency or other commitments.

This should be added incentive not to allow complacency to take over. The myna control task needs to be one of continuous, sustained and concerted effort otherwise we will see myna numbers increase in a big way. We need to continually recruit new trappers across our area.

In that vein, CIMAG is hopeful that the ACT Government will shortly make a Declaration that mynas are a Pest Animal. Indications from the ACT Directorate are that this is imminent: in our advocating this to the government, we had hoped that Declaration would trigger some strong government effort and be a signal to State governments to do the same. We have a concern though that a formal Declaration will not result in the ACT Government developing a Management Plan requiring a concerted effort by authorities and the community to tackle the myna problem.

The Canberra Indian Myna Action Group Inc also faced financial constraints in 2017-18, as reported by the Treasurer, since fewer people collected a trap – and hence made a donation to the group. (That situation has now greatly turned around due to the overwhelming generosity of many of our members in responding to our request of a few months ago for financial support).

A number of activities of the past year are worth specifically mentioning.

We continued the public education and awareness raising effort during 2017-18. CIMAG does this in a number of ways:

Providing support for myna control activities elsewhere. Our success has been an inspiration to other groups and individuals across NSW and now to a greater extent in Victoria and Queensland. We continue to get requests for advice from people / local councils in these states, and now increasingly from overseas agencies and individuals.

The trapping effort continues across the Canberra district. Aspects worth mentioning are:

The Nest Removal Project in Mulligans Flat, Goorooyaroo and Kinleyside Nature Reserves around Gungahlin – with funding from the ACT Government – is not proceeding as well as hoped. This is largely due to lack of volunteers being able to help the project by regularly monitoring, and difficulty in finding people to remove nests. So if interested please get in touch with me.

The membership of CIMAG continues to grow: but at a slower rate than previously, indicating that we need to re-invigorate our efforts to “spread the word.”

The increase in observed numbers of mynas is a reminder that we must not get complacent. While trapping will never eradicate mynas, a sustained culling effort will keep their numbers in check and provide space for native birds, small reptiles (eg skinks) and insects. Also, while new recruits are needed, we also need the existing members to continue their efforts. If we don’t, we can anticipate a rapid rise in myna numbers and greater impact on our wildlife and urban amenity.

In conclusion I would like to thank all our members for their support. We look forward to your further efforts in tackling this significant pest.

Bill Handke
3 Dec 2018