Emus are at large in Decatur County

September 24, 2007

Bainbridge-- New, interesting challenges have faced Bainbridge's animal control officer over the last few months.  Three emus escaped the fence where they were housed as pets, and so far, animal control has not been able to round them up.

It may sound comical, but the animal control officer says these birds may pose a serious threat to the public.   On more than one occasion calls flooded into 911 from drivers on this wooded road that Emus were running wild.

It was understandably a shock to animal control officer Albert Williams, Jr.   "We got a call that there were some Emus out. I said 'oh my. . . emus out? I don't know what I'm gonna do with those,'" recalls Williams.

The owner of the home had kept them as pets in his backyard.  When he moved he asked a friend to take them but before that happened, they escaped.

Emus fenced in a nearby city park can give you an idea about what we're talking about.  But they're not even large as the ones on the loose.  Those were between 6' and 7' tall and weigh almost 200 pounds.

Williams says his first-hand experience tells him these relatives of the ostrich are not something you want to mess with.  "He started walking toward me with those big old eyes, he dropped his head a little bit, I started back-pedaling like this I said 'Oh Lord, what I'm going to do?' I've never had to go through this, here.  I was scared, I didn't really know what to do," Williams remembers. 

Whenever the emus have surfaced the most Williams and several police officers have been able to do is get them out of the road.  "If a bird that size got in the road it could cause a serious accident, cause someone to lose their life," he explains.  Today, Williams was surprised to see one of the birds had returned home on its own, but the other two are still out there somewhere.

Williams advises anyone who sees them to call in an expert. He says even in his profession that's what he would do.  "That big bird not knowing what his mind, what he's going to do on his own. . . I'll take my chances with a pit bull, cat, snake anyday than mess with an emu," says Williams.

He says he'll keep responding to calls about the emus in the name of public safety but hopes the other two will join their pal back in the pen.

Emus are the second largest bird in existence, behind their relative the ostrich. If you do see one of the birds in the area you're urged to call 911.