Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Straddie has a Problem with Mynas


Concerned Stradbroke Islanders are taking action to try to stop the establishment and spread of the pest Common Myna (also know as the Indian Myna or -by some detractors -as “flying cane toads”) on the Island. Submissions have been written to the Redland Shire Council calling for integrated action and some trapping is taking place. Three main groups of mynas exist on the Island: a large group at Dunwich, a fairly small group at Amity and a small but steadily growing group at Point Lookout.

fosi4

The species is listed by the IUCN (World Conservation Union) as one of the 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species alongside Red Foxes and Cane Toads (both of which Straddie unfortunately also has to cope with). It is a serious environmental pest as it aggressively competes for nest hollows and food, adversely affecting the breeding success of native birds and hollow-nesting mammals. Mynas are an adaptable and omnivorous scavenger feeding on chicks, young birds and eggs as well as fruits, nectar and insects. Mynas are a threat to our native lorikeets, rosellas, kookaburras etc and small mammals, like sugar gliders as they compete for hollows but also are a direct threat to small birds such as Willy Wagtails and brown honeyeaters through predation on their nests. To make matters worse, it is also a major disperser of seeds from the pest plant lantana and is suspected of spreading other environmental weeds.

The Common Myna takes food from rubbish bins and is often seen sorting through leaf litter in parks and gardens, at picnic areas and on road verges in search of food*. Mynas gather at dusk forming noisy, squabbling groups at communal roosts in dense foliage such as palms and pines. They remain in the same area throughout the year, but can travel up to 12 km between roost and feeding areas. They are often seen in pairs or small parties and spend a lot of time feeding on the ground. It is important to differentiate the pest Common Mynah from the Australian native honeyeater, the Noisy Miner, also found on Straddie, which have light grey to grey- brown bodies.

Michael Dickinson, Island Wildlife Spotter / Catcher from Australian Wildlife & Feral Management is interested in supporting local people to take action against the mynas. Michael says ’from my experience with mynas, a groundswell of community interest needs to take place to get a large group of highly motivated people together who can start trapping and rotating traps around differing areas as you cannot successively trap birds in one location [they get wary]. Plus people can start to lose interest after a while as it takes a lot of patience and sometimes little reward – but if the people are there then the job can be done…’ Michael is available to give advice on the myna’s habits and on trapping and humane destruction of the pests. Michael has traps available for loan. In early 2011, after the summer holiday season has passed, Michael is looking to organise a community meeting at Dunwich to present an update on fox control on NSI and discuss the idea of starting a coordinated, community-based Myna control program. FOSI will notify members by email of the date and time of the meeting. If you are interested in taking action to tackle the myna problem, please contact Michael on email: micsall@aapt.net.au or tel: 0413 602 155

*More information about the myna problem can be found online at the Myna National Animal Pest Alert

Mary Barram