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What should be done about common (Indian) myna birds?
The common myna (also called Indian myna) is an introduced bird species that is now well established in many cities and towns in Eastern Australia. There is concern that common mynas have a negative impact on native birds through competition for food, nesting sites and territories and because of this concern, community groups and local councils conduct myna trapping and killing programs.
Despite being considered a highly invasive species, there has been surprisingly little research on the negative impacts of common mynas on native plants and animals . Although recent research using long-term observations of bird abundance in Canberra has suggested that the common myna has a negative impact on the long-term abundance of some native bird species , the significance of this impact has been questioned, as has the methodology used for the research . Furthermore, since the impact of common mynas is not clearly understood, it is yet to be determined if killing mynas has any effect other than reducing local myna populations.
There is agreement that invasion of common mynas is likely due to the alteration of habitat that occurs with human urbanisation. Common mynas prefer to nest in the highly modified habitats and artificial structures found in residential and commercial areas rather than in vegetation, which is the opposite of what native birds prefer. Thus, restoring habitat (by planting trees for example) and also making urban areas less suitable for mynas may be a more useful approach to their management.
RSPCA Australia recognises that in certain circumstances it is necessary to control populations of pest animals in order to reduce their adverse impact on the environment. However, in the case of common mynas there is not general agreement about the need for culling. We believe that—based on current knowledge about the impact and preferred habitat of common mynas—trapping and killing by community groups should not be encouraged. Rather, in agreement with a number of experts on this issue, efforts to enhance bird diversity in urbanised areas would be better directed to improving the quality of natural habitat. If, however, trapping and killing is to be conducted, the RSPCA believes that it should only be carried out as part of a government-supervised control program, which includes clear guidelines on humane procedures. We would also encourage that monitoring and assessment of any control programs be undertaken to provide information on any effects of culling on myna bird impacts, not just on myna bird numbers.
The attached information sheet provides more detail on procedures for the humane trapping and killing of common mynas.
Grarock K, Tidemann CR, Wood J, & Lindenmayer DB (2012) Is it benign or is it a pariah? Empirical evidence for the impact of the common myna (Acridotheres tristis) on Australian birds. PLoS ONE, 7(7), e40622. Available at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0040622
See also related comment thread from A. Taylor: http://www.plosone.org/annotation/listThread.action?root=53629
Lowe KA, Taylor CE, & Major RE (2011) Do Common Mynas significantly compete with native birds in urban environments? Journal of Ornithology, 152(4), 909–921.
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