October 2002. A note from an advisor to the Ministry of Environment, Kiribati about mynahs. Common mynahs have started to appear, notably around the port. The question asked was what may happen if they are left to proliferate?
There was no direct response to Kiribati’s problem, except for comments from Canberra, Australia, which also has introduced mynahs.
A copy of an article from the Canberra Times by Chris Tidemann (ANU, School of Natura; Resources), 26 September 2002 entitled: Myna not a minor problem, solution required was sent by a member of CSIRO.
The article argued that mynahs (Acridotheres tristis) are not beneficial to Australian wildlife, and that there is a good chance of controlling them.
“Before 1968 Canberra was myna-free. The mynas here now are descendants of birds that were brought from Sydney in the late 1960s and released in the south Canberra suburb of Forrest. In some suburbs more than 100 mynas occupy every square kilometre and the numbers are still rising. Like other invasive species, mynas are highly competent survivors that are persistently invading from the ever-expanding settlement fringe of eastern Australia, mostly into woodland, where native wildlife is already seriously compromised.
“We know, from many anecdotes and a few experiments, that mynas have serious, although still poorly understood, negative effects on native birds and other small vertebrates, particularly species that nest in hollows. In 2000, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) declared mynas among 100 of the world’s worst invasive species.
“Can we control mynas? Mynas have several biological characteristics that give us a huge advantage if we do decide to control their numbers. The first is that mynas are very slow invaders, probably not much faster
than cane toads; it took mynas around 30 years to invade the whole of Canberra. Mynas do not venture far from their communal roosts and they are relatively slow breeders. The very strong affinity of mynas for others of their kind means that large numbers can be lured into traps with decoy birds.
“Mynas are highly visible and they are extremely unpopular with the community. Of the thousands of people who have contacted me recently about mynas, an overwhelming majority has wanted to get rid of them. People do not like mynas because of their theft of domestic animal food, the noise and fouling they create and their aggressive attacks on native birds. Few people, it seems, would now agree with the view of Robert Hall, in his 1907 book, Useful Birds of Southern Australia: “The Myna makes cheerful the environment and, except for a slight damage to fruit, is generally to be commended.
“In November 2002, we plan to resume trials to find out if it is possible to minimise mynas by trapping, what it is likely to cost to keep them minimised, and to quantify myna effects on native wildlife. I hypothesise that we could safely, cleanly, humanely and affordably reduce myna numbers to levels where they did not matter. Such a process could not be achieved overnight and would require persistence, but it seems to me that it is well worthwhile doing experiments to inform our thinking.”