Indian Mynas adapt easily to human, urban and rural landscapes. They are intelligent and aggressive and are now often the predominant bird in urban areas all along the east coast of Australia. They are long lived and breed from October to March (2 breeding seasons). They are territorial but roost communally.
The World Conservation Union has included the IM in the list of the `100 most invading species in the world and have described them as an extreme threat to Australia.
How did they get here?
IMs are native to the Indian sub-continent (Iran-Sri Lanka). They were brought to Melbourne market gardens in the 1860s to keep down insects. They were then taken to Cairns and other places in far north Queensland to control insects in cane fields. They failed to control insect pests!
Why are Indian Mynas a problem?
Indian mynas nest in tree hollows or places like them such as holes in roofs. Nesting hollows tend to be in short supply over much of Australia and thus, mynas tend to compete aggressively with native wildlife for nesting hollows. Therefore, mynas reduce biodiversity by fighting for hollows with native birds destroying their eggs and chicks and stopping them from breeding. Indian Mynas are capable of evicting even large birds such as Kookaburras from their nests. They also evict small mammals, like Sugar Gliders from hollows – which commonly means a death sentence for the gliders because they have nowhere else to go. It is not uncommon for groups of mynas to mob other birds and mammals like possums.
Indian Mynas cause significant damage to horticultural and other crops. They also tend to be a significant nuisance in public areas (eg communal roosts, restaurants etc) and domestic situations where they eat chook and pet foods, damage fruit crops and generally make a lot of mess.
Indian Mynas are an introduced species and so are not protected in Victoria or any other state in Australia. As they are feral birds, no permission is required to trap and dispose of them. However, obligations exist through relevant animal welfare legislation to treat and dispose of the birds humanely. In Victoria, Indian Mynas are not listed as a pest bird under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 and so there is no legislative requirement to control them.
The method of euthanasia should be quick, painless and stress-free. It should also be safe for the operator and simple to use and maintain. The killing of pest birds must be conducted in accordance with relevant Animal Welfare legislation. Two documents - Methods of Euthanasia SOP and the Trapping of Pest Birds SOP provide detailed information and advice on trapping and euthanasing of pest birds. Both documents are available from the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) websites.
The main methods used are cervical dislocation or gassing using either carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide. Recent research by Tidemann and King (2009) show carbon monoxide is a cheap, humane and effective euthanasia agent (Wildlife Research 36(6) 522–527 CSIRO publishing - www.publish.csiro.au/journals/wr). The research actually shows carbon monoxide poisoning using a cold engine is more humane than carbon dioxide poisoning.
The RSPCA supports the trapping and killing of Indian Mynas only as part of a ‘government-supervised humane control program’. They claim that trapping carried out on an ad-hoc basis is ineffective. The RSPCA is strongly supportive of the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group’s trapping activities and this includes taking birds for disposal seven days a week!
Some local vets will take Indian mynas and dispose of them humanely for trappers.
Monitoring is an important part of a control program so that the success or otherwise of the program can be verified and demonstrated to others. There are a number of methods of monitoring but the simplest and probably most useful for most trappers is the Garden Count,. This method has been used for a number of years by the Canberra Ornithologists Group over many years in their Garden Bird Survey. The method is based on counting the maximum number of birds seen within a 100 metre radius of your house (an area of around 3 hectares) at any one time during a week. The first three hours of daylight are usually when you see most birds, but if you see a big flock in your garden at some other time of day – record it as your maximum for the week.