Re: [SPAM] RE: [Birding-Aus] Indian Myna

To: Chris Sanderson <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Re: [SPAM] RE: [Birding-Aus] Indian Myna
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 2010 04:26:24 +0930
Here in Darwin several years ago, a decision was made to rid the city of
feral pigeons.  Now, there are very few left, and unlike any other
Australian city, we have no feral birds.  However, populations of Rainbow
Lorikeets have exploded, and  I suspect this is because of the surfeit of
food available in the form of plants such as Schlefflera  and mango trees -
there has been a huge growth in the numbers of orchards over the last twenty

Meanwhile in Palmerston where I now live, I rarely have Northern Rosellas
visit my garden as they used to, and no more do I see flocks of Varied
Lorikeets fly overhead.  Nor do I see Black-tailed Treecreeper in the open
forest around the area.

However, no one will do anything about the lorikeets - they are seen as
"beautiful" and "natural", and until they present a threat in some way to
humans, it looks like they're here to stay.

If, as happened in parts of South America, the mangoes are wiped out by
disease, tens of thousands of birds will starve.  But locals find this
preferable to culling.

Back in the early 1980s there was a golf course at East Point, and with the
availability of food and water, the population of Agile Wallabies grew.
After the golf course closed, the wallabies were supplied with straw.  Their
numbers continued to grow and they were seen to be a threat to the monsoon
vine-thicket there.  They were also straying onto nearby ovals and lawns and
road verges in their search for food.   Some were being killed by cars and
others by dogs.  Some locals ran a campaign for their protection.
Soon notices were erected in an attempt to protect these animals.
Indigenous people asked that the wallabies be captured and then released
near their settlement so that they could hunt them for food.  However, this
horrified the locals even more.

But dogs and cars weren't the wallabies' biggest threat.  A vet I knew
received several of these animals in a pitiful state.  They were starving.

I no longer live in the area, so do not keep a watchful eye on the
happenings at East Point.  But I'm told the population has crashed through
starvation and disease.

I find all this rather fascinating. from a sociological perspective.  The
locals were horrified that the animals were being killed by dogs or cars, or
the idea that they might be hunted.  And yet they were quite prepared to let
them starve. 

As an ex-hunter (I used to be a buffalo shooter, and snake-catcher for my
semi-traditional relatives), and member of an Indigenous clan, I feel no
great contrition at killing an animal for food.  Nor do I have any objection
to killing feral animals, be they cane toads or whatever, or even animals
which like the lorikeets or wallabies, can threaten the well-being of other
fauna and flora.  However, there are ways and means of doing this, and
letting animals like the wallabies starve to death, is beyond the pale as
far as I'm concerned.

Each of us should be taking action to ensure that we and our descendants
learn  to live within our means.  In our case, we decided never to have a
cat, after discovering that our little semi-traditional relatives were
begging their parents for kittens, which they were then taking back to
Arnhem Land.  We rarely eat beef, because of the impact these beasts have on
our fragile country and because graziers have been responsible for the
introduction of several devastating weeds, not least among them, that
transformer species, Gamba Grass, Andropogon gayanus.

Back in 1988 I was in charge of collecting Top End wildflowers for the
opening of the then new Parliament House in Canberra.  It's difficult to
find such flowers now.  Because of Gamba Grass our verges are regularly
mowed in the wet season.

However, I eat kangaroo, and while lecturing in the US on conservation,
urged my audiences to eat that meat, rather than Aussie beef.  Better still,
they might support the move by ranchers to run bison instead of cattle.
Much better for their environment.

As for the locals who let those wallabies starve to death,  they were
typical of many in western society who have great trouble dealing with
death.  I see this sometimes with the Americans I guide, and so several
years ago wrote a paper called "The Value of Dead Animals to Ecotourism"
which I presented at a conference at Charles Sturt University.  I also wrote
a short story called "The Baby", about an American businesswoman holidaying
in Kakadu, who meets a young Aboriginal mother carrying the bones of her
dead baby.  My Kunwinjku relatives pored over that story for hours, before
concluding it would be good for "bringing about understanding" between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.  That story, published by Ita Buttrose
in her women's magazine, is now utilised by various educational institutions
throughout Europe and Australia.

All can learn much from  people like my semi-traditional relatives, who, on
outstations like Baby Dreaming, still live in relative balance with their
environment.  And despite funding being cut to outstations more and more are
moving back to live in the relative peace and quiet, and isolation, of that
beautiful and pristine country..  Few other Australians live in that
balance, and from what I've seen the situation worsens all the time.

If we don't take action to protect our environment, from feral animals,
weeds and other threats, if we don't insist that our children learn about
and spend time in the natural environment, how can we call ourselves true
Australians? Simply because most of us might eat meat pies, and love the
beach and the footy?  Meanwhile our native fauna and flora disappear.

on 4/2/10 11:56 PM, Chris Sanderson at  wrote:

> Hi Gary,
> I think you make a good point about stopping and thinking about the outcomes
> involved in culling actions.  Killing animals for no measurable benefit is
> certainly ethically dubious.  And while I agree habitat loss is the most
> devastating challenge facing our wildlife right now, it would be foolish to
> downplay the impact feral animals may have, both through predation and
> direct competition for resources such as food and nesting territory.  My
> question to you is what if you knew for a fact a cull could be successful,
> thus making a huge difference to the future wellbeing of native animals?  I
> believe the obvious example here is Barbary Dove, where a concerted effort
> now could well prevent the next big feral competing for food and nesting
> resources with our native doves.  I'm sure in my lifetime there will be
> other such examples - I would predict at least Peach-faced Lovebirds
> becoming established somewhere in Aus and possibly Ring-necked Parakeets
> also.  Given the huge impact Rainbow Lorikeets are having on Red-capped
> Parrots in Perth right now, I don't even want to think about adding another
> two parrot species into the mix.  And of course, what about the House Crow -
> what impact would a large, adaptable, highly intelligent corvid have on our
> ecosystems?  Another great example of a control action likely to succeed is
> the highly ambitious clearing of feral mammals from Lord Howe Island.  The
> potential benefits here are staggering, with the potential recovery of
> endemic reptiles, frogs, terrestrial birds and nesting seabirds, as well as
> reintroduction of previously locally extinct species to fill currently
> vacant niches in the island ecosystem.
> Regards,
> Chris
> On Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 11:59 PM, Gary Wright
> <>wrote:
>> Hi David
>> The problem is that these are difficult ethical decisions and the effects
>> of
>> our actions are extremely complex.  I will say, right off of the bat that I
>> am against killing anything.  I am a vegan for reasons of avoiding animal
>> cruelty and respecting life.  But putting that aside as obviously I don't
>> expect most people to share that view, there are still huge ethical issues
>> involved when we decide to take the life of another animal.   That animal
>> is
>> paying the ultimate price for what benefit?
>> Here in WA at the moment is the toadbuster campaign, funded by government
>> which is killing large numbers of toad and it is not going to have the
>> slightest effect on the cane toads march to WA.  So, why are we doing it?
>>  People want to do something, I think is part of the answer.  They are
>> concerned about the negative effects of the cane toad on the environment
>> and
>> are motivated to do something.  Thousands of toads are dying to help us
>> feel
>> better about the situation.
>> As we set ourselves up as judge and jury on the lives of other animals, I
>> am
>> concerned that many animals are dying needlessly.  Another example is
>> spotted turtle doves in alice springs where people are encouraged to kill
>> them.  For no good reason-you go a kilometre from the town and you won't
>> see
>> one.
>> I suspect that killing Indian Mynas is going to be a waste of time in terms
>> of protecting diversity of our birds.   The problem when we decide to kill
>> other animals is where do we draw the line. I am certainly against killing
>> feral animals in cities and towns.  When it comes to feral animals in
>> National Parks there may be a case for killing ferals, but I don't think it
>> is a straightforward case and I am sure each case is complex.
>> This will be my last comment on this thread but of course feel free to
>> respond.
>> Gary
>> On 4 February 2010 07:22, David Stowe <> wrote:
>>> Hi Gary,
>>> I'm a bit confused by your email. You say that habitat destruction is the
>>> biggest problem but also that we should cry equally for an invasive
>> species
>>> that lost a partner?
>>> I did indeed cry for the tree and the habitat destruction and agree that
>> it
>>> is the biggest problem, but i don't agree that we should therefore let
>> feral
>>> species run unchecked. Whether it is the bigger problem or not shouldn't
>>> mean it is ignored. Do you think we should let the Barbary Doves multiply
>>> until they get to the population of Spotted Doves in Sydney etc? Should
>> we
>>> let feral cats and pigs run free because it would be sad to kill them and
>>> it's not as big a problem as habitat destruction?
>>> Sorry Gary but i won't be crying for the feral who has lost a partner.
>> I'm
>>> too busy crying for our native species that have lost their potential to
>>> have families.
>>> Cheers
>>> David
>>> On 03/02/2010, at 10:48 PM, Gary Wright wrote:
>>> Hi David
>>> I agree it would make you want to cry in cutting down a tree
>> unnecessarily,
>>> but imagine if you were the mate of an Indian Myna, that was killed that
>>> would make you want to cry as well.  Our biggest problem for the future
>> of
>>> birds is habitat destruction, not birds invading habitats we have
>> altered.
>>> Gary
>>> On 3 February 2010 16:02, David Stowe <>
>> wrote:
>>>> I was talking to a mate just last week about this. He is in Berowra (far
>>>> north Sydney) and whilst not a really an active birdwatcher he is
>> certainly
>>>> a lover of birds. He has a Myna Trap from the council (nothing like
>> $300!!)
>>>> and gets at least a few a day!
>>>> Good on him I reckon.
>>>> He also strongly lamented his neighbours cutting down of a beautiful
>>>> casuarina tree because "it might fall over". The week before he had
>> Glossy
>>>> Black Cockatoos feeding in it. Makes you want to cry.
>>>> Dave
>>>> On 03/02/2010, at 3:20 PM, Keith Brandwood wrote:
>>>> Here in the Hawkesbury the council is pushing the Common Myna capture
>> and
>>>> kill program but the traps only cost $55 and you get them put to sleep
>> for
>>>> free. Apparently its gone gangbuster in the ACT.

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