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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Crackdown on Myna Birds

A grassroots organisation is working to get rid of a feral pest - the Indian Myna Bird.

RIAHN SMITH February 8, 2013 7:00am

Lindsay Muston has set up many traps to eradicate the well known Indian Myna Birds pests


A grassroots organisation is working to rid the Goulburn Valley of a feral pest wreaking havoc on native wildlife.

The Goulburn-Murray Landcare Network is calling for community action to curb the population growth of the Indian Myna bird, an introduced species listed as one of the top 100 of the world’s most invasive species.

Landcare facilitator Marg Watterscom:Marg Watters said the damage to local fauna caused by the birds was too great to stand by and do nothing.

‘‘It takes over the nesting hollows (and) will destroy eggs... (but) it’s not just the birds it’s also the mammals that nest in hollows in trees,’’ Ms Watters said.

‘‘It affects possums and also squirrel gliders which are endangered in our area... it’s taking over the hollows that they would usually rest in.’’

To tackle this problem, Goulburn-Murray Landcare Network will hold a series of information sessions to gauge community interest in a control program.

The program would involve trapping the birds in lightweight cages and destroying them in line with recommendations from Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries — either by cervical dislocation (breaking their necks) or transferring them to vetinary clinics for lethal injections.

The project was inspired by Lindsay Muston, a Tallygaroopna man who has been single-handedly clearing his area of Indian Myna birds for the past four years.

‘‘They were taking over the native habitat in my area,’’ Mr Muston said.

‘‘I’ve got lots of rosellas and other native birds (and) they were encroaching on their livelihoods. I’ve seen kookaburras been kicked out of their nests, it’s traumatic, particularly for the parents of the bird.

‘‘(I wanted to) do something about it, get my environment back.’’

The proposal has been supported by several animal welfare organisations including Wildlife Victoria and Shepparton-based animal carer Katherine Lohse, as well as a regional biodiversity expert.

‘‘(We’re) definitely in support, as long as it’s co-ordinated, it’s ethical, and has a clear biological benefit (which) it does,’’ Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority land and biodiversity program manager Steve Wilson said.

‘‘If you take native species out of an eco system there are a lot of consequences. We might lose birds that are good pollinators, birds that spread seeds... it does impact on certain crops, it does spread bird lice and it has potential to carry zoonotic diseases — human transferable diseases.’’

But not all animal welfare groups have fully backed the project.

Although the RSPCA recognised that in ‘‘certain circumstances it is necessary to control populations of these animals in order to reduce or remove their adverse impact’’, it has warned against such control projects being undertaken by community organisations.

‘‘The RSPCA believes that controlling the population of Indian mynas should only be carried out as part of a government-supervised humane control program,’’ a spokesperson said.

‘‘Trapping carried out on an ad-hoc basis is not supported by the RSPCA, as it is ineffective in reducing and maintaining the adverse impacts of mynas in the long-term, and does not usually allow for monitoring and assessment of the success of the control program.’’

The first community consultation session will be held at 7.30pm on Monday, February 10, at the Shepparton Senior Citizens Centre, Welsford St, Shepparton.

For more information, phone 58213530.

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