Trapping Indian mynas in Newcastle backyards

BACKYARD BLITZ: Christine Moore frequently sets up her Indian myna trap in Adamstown Heights and euthanises the birds. Picture: Marina Neil.

BACKYARD BLITZ: Christine Moore frequently sets up her Indian myna trap in Adamstown Heights and euthanises the birds. Picture: Marina Neil.

INDIAN mynas are widely blamed for tyrannising other birds and some Novocastrians want to do more to cull the “winged rats”.

Christine Moore, who lives in Canberra and frequently visits her mother in Adamstown Heights, is “always pleased” to catch a few of the birds in her myna trap and dispose of them using car fumes.

“I have been appalled at the increase in myna birds in Newcastle, especially in suburban backyards in Adamstown Heights,” Ms Moore said. 

“The increase is attributable largely to Westfield [mall in Kotara], where there are plenty of foodscraps. But there are mynas everywhere in Newcastle.”

Ms Moore emphasised the need to provide trapped mynas with food, water and shelter, and pointed to the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group as a model for Newcastle.

The group, with more than 1000 members, claims to have knocked the bird from third most common in the capital to 19th.

Group president Bill Handke said Canberrans had culled nearly 54,000 mynas in nine years, though it was difficult to say scientifically if other species were now thriving.

“But a common report back from trappers is that once they trap them and get rid of them, the small birds are appearing back in their gardens,” Mr Handke said.

Trapping an Indian myna – classified a “pest bird” by the NSW Department of Primary Industries for depleting food stocks and nesting hollows – can be easier said than done.

Dr Andrea Griffin, a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle who has spent a decade studying the birds, said the species displays a capacity to understand danger.

“They have an incredible flexibility and capacity to learn from their own individual experience,” Dr Griffin said.

“They can also learn from each other.”

Dr Griffin said the science on how much damage Indian mynas cause outside urban areas remains “divided”, and any cull should be for “the right reasons”.

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