Article by Canberra Indian Myna Action Group Inc
Canberra’s natural environment is subject to constant pressure from a wide range of threats: weed infestations, pest animal incursions, free-run cats and dogs, building and leisure encroachments. One of those threats has been with us since the late 1960s when Indian Mynas (also called Common Mynas) were deliberately released into two inner Canberra suburbs. Since then these pest birds – which take over the nesting hollows of native birds, destroy eggs, kill chicks and prey on insects and small reptiles – have become a major threat to wildlife across the entire Canberra urban environment and extending now into our nature reserves and surrounding bush and farmland. A major concern is their threat to some our most endangered species: the Golden Sun Moth, the Grassland Earless Dragon, the Perunga Flightless Grasshopper and the Coorooboorama Raspy Cricket. And of course to the Superb Parrots, Owlet Nightjars and rosellas etc.
Indian Mynas have been identified as a global pest animal by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – one of only three birds on their list of the world’s 100 most invasive species. In Canberra their numbers exploded, such that by 2005 they were the 3rd most common bird in Canberra (Canberra Ornithological Group’s Garden Bird Survey). We were delighted when in 2021 the ACT Minister for the Environment, Ms Rebecca Vassarotti, made the Declaration of the Indian Myna as a Pest Animal in the ACT. This was a most profound decision by the Minister and reflects the serious risk that these pest birds pose.
It was way back in 2006 that a group of concerned Canberra environmentalists formed the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group Inc (CIMAG) to tackle the problem through an innovative approach: this being a community-action program in which the community owns and operates backyard traps and then humanely disposes of the trapped birds by euthanizing them.
At the moment, some 2860 people in Canberra have participated in the trapping program: their collective success has seen myna numbers now drop to them being the 24th most common bird here. However, a couple of good breeding seasons, constraints in us providing traps to interested people because of restrictions on getting together to make the traps during COVID, has seen a rebound in their numbers.
This points to the need for the community to be ever vigilant and ever active. To those who want to protect wildlife throughout the Canberra district we say, ‘’get in touch with us for a trap and on how you can protect your bit of valuable bush’’. The easiest way to do that is to go to our website – www.indianmynaaction.org.au – and fill out the application form.
Every person involved is doing a little bit in reducing the threat posed by these introduced pest birds: but collectively we are doing our natural environment and our wildlife a very big service.
Bill Handke OAM
President – Canberra Indian Myna Action Group Inc