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Invasive species still considered to be myna issue

Although they’re considered pests in other parts of New Zealand, concern about the impact of the invasive myna bird in Wairarapa is low due to the small number of them in the region.

In 2018, the Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] asked Wairarapa residents to report any myna sightings, as the pest animals team leader Glen Falconer said they were regarded as “serious invasive threats”.

First introduced into New Zealand in the 1870s, the tropical birds “vigorously defend their nest site and feeding territory, and destroy eggs and nestlings of other species within their area”, Falconer said.

At that time, the council said 24 birds were sighted by the Masterton Transfer station, with groups of two to five myna commonly seen in the area.

Now, however, Greater Wellington’s environment group delivery director Jack Mace said the council is no longer encouraging the reporting of sightings due to the low number of birds discovered in the past six years.

He also noted that safely trapping myna birds in and around the Masterton and Martinborough refuse transfer stations was difficult and ineffective.

“Officers attempted trapping the birds at the Masterton refuse transfer station; however, the amount of other food available onsite made luring the birds into our traps impossible,” Mace said.

“Other techniques involving poisonous bait could not be applied due to the risk of accidentally poisoning other birds who also feed from leftover food at the transfer site.”

Mace said GWRC still regards myna as a “serious invasive threat” but, because they prefer a warmer climate, it’s unlikely there will be a population large enough in Wairarapa to cause “significant impact”.

However, Mace recognised that “climate change could create a more appealing environment for myna and encourage them to encroach and establish” in the region.

“This could present a challenge for officers attempting to control myna due to the likelihood of re-invasion from other parts of the North Island, where myna are already well established.”

Mace said the council has “limited resources to manage pests under the Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP)”.

“For an organism to be classified as a pest under the RPMP, it needs to meet certain criteria, with rules prescribed under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to manage that pest,” he said.

“This includes having the potential to carry out a successful control or eradication method.”

Greater Wellington Council biosecurity officer Scott Hutchinson said the council doesn’t consider myna as “typical” for Wairarapa.

“We do believe myna birds are becoming more common, with our teams noticing the populations’ growth since 2018,” he said.

“They’re notoriously smart – they quickly learn to avoid traditional control methods like traps, and poisoned baits are difficult to use without wider consequences.”

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