‘Cull these cane toads of the sky’

A CITY councillor has called for the mass culling of common or Indian myna birds, a species dubbed "the cane toads of the sky''.

An explosion in the local population of the common Indian myna, an introduced pest known for attacking and devastating native birds and the ecosystem, has residents in such a flap that Robina councillor Hermann Vorster says he will personally distribute traps.

The controversial birds.
The controversial birds.

It is the second avian dilemma for the council this week, with controversy over a flock of geese at Oxenford leading to debate about whether about 50 geese and ducks should be relocated or left alone.

Cr Vorster says he will deliver myna traps to locals at Robina and Varsity Lakes, allowing them to help contain the pest menace.

He said the chocolate coloured mynas were a growing problem that could harm the city's reputation as a bird watchers' paradise.

Cr Hermann Vorster.
Cr Hermann Vorster.

"These birds are the cane toads of the sky and have entered the suburbs in plague-like proportions," he said.

"Removing even one of these birds from the sky will make a huge difference to our native birds.

"I want to see them become the less-than-common myna because while they are myna birds, they are causing a major problem."

The common myna originated in Asia and was brought to Australia in the mid-19th century in an attempt to control insects.

An Indian Myna Bird. Picture: John Appleyard
An Indian Myna Bird. Picture: John Appleyard

However the birds spread along Australia's east coast and became an ecological menace.

The common myna is considered a highly aggressive species known for displacing native birds.

Cr Vorster said he had been contacted by residents who had noticed a sharp decline in native birds and an increase in mynas.

Council traps can contain three birds which, once captured, would be taken to Currumbin Sanctuary to be euthanised.

Vet Dr Michael Pyne. Picture Mike Batterham
Vet Dr Michael Pyne. Picture Mike Batterham

Currumbin Sanctuary head vet Dr Michael Pyne backed the push to cull the birds, saying they had been devastating for the Australian environment.

"They are described quite fairly as flying cane toads and they are an environmental disaster," he said.

'These are very aggressive birds and are well-known for muscling in on other birds' territories.

"They are highly invasive and are a huge pest and if nothing is done they could really take over, so it is important the community get behind this."

It is not the first time Cr Vorster has waded into debate over the local bird population.

Indian Mynah birds. Picture: Jason Sammon
Indian Mynah birds. Picture: Jason Sammon

Late last year he got into a war of words with Buckingham Palace's top swan keeper, David Barber, over whether residents should feed bread to native birds. The debate, shared widely on social media, sparked outcry.

Mr Barber claimed there was "no good reason not to feed bread to swans'', but Cr Vorster argued there was no reason to feed native birds at all. However he said if people felt they had to, they should use lettuce and cracked corn.

Cr Pyne at the time said bread would cause young swans and ducks to grow too fast, leading to bone deformities that would leave the birds at the mercy of predators.


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