Emus on a main street in Peterborough. Picture: Bernard Humphreys
Emus on a main street in Peterborough. Picture: Bernard Humphreys

Emu mobs invade small Aussie town

MOBS of emus are prowling the streets of the mid-north town of Peterborough as low rainfall sees them descend to forage for food and water.

Peterborough Mayor Ruth Whittle said the local high school was forced to call council officers to shoo some 80 emus from the oval this week and on Mother's Day, the native birds were eating flowers left on graves in the local cemetery.

"We have hundreds and hundreds of emus around at the moment, there was something like 80 on the school oval one day this week," Mrs Whittle.

An emu dashes across the road near Peterborough. Picture: Tait Schmaal
An emu dashes across the road near Peterborough. Picture: Tait Schmaal


"It's causing serious traffic problems, it's very dangerous on the roads, we've had emus and kangaroos, and one couple had to stay here two days last week because their car was a write off after an accident with one."

And it was also causing problems for farmers as protected emus ate seed sown in paddocks before it could germinate.

Numbers had particularly swelled in the past two weeks with one emu even wandering down the main street, others eating plants in town gardens and gathering in large mobs near water troughs in paddocks just outside of the town of 1400 people.

The native birds have wandered in search of food and water, after little to no rainfall. Picture: Bernard Humphreys
The native birds have wandered in search of food and water, after little to no rainfall. Picture: Bernard Humphreys

The native birds along with kangaroos were heading into the town about three hours drive north of Adelaide in search of food and water as "we just haven't had any rain", Mrs Whittle said, adding she'd never seen emus in such large numbers in the area.

"They were even in our cemetery on Mother's Day, people were putting flowers out for Mother's Day and emus were going around eating them," she said.

 

Peterborough locals said they’d never seen emus in such numbers in the township. Picture: Tait Schmaal
Peterborough locals said they’d never seen emus in such numbers in the township. Picture: Tait Schmaal

 

Shirley Dearlove at the local Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre said emus were regularly appearing in the main street, in people's gardens and most farmers had emus on their properties.

Some had even wandered into the local drive through bottle shop.

"We have people asking when they come in off the Orroroo road 'is someone out there farming emus?'" she said.

At the local council, development and regulatory services officer Lawrence Heath is on the frontline in keeping the town emu safe, saying "it's bizarre seeing them wandering around the streets not giving a hoot".

 

There was little that could be done about the emus besides monitor and move them on. Picture: Bernard Humphreys
There was little that could be done about the emus besides monitor and move them on. Picture: Bernard Humphreys

Officers had issued warnings to school students to keep clear of the animals and when Mr Heath attended a Natural Resources Management board meeting this week to discuss the issue, he heard numbers had swelled after good rain last year but now were struggling to find enough food with conditions changed.

There was little staff could do other than monitor and move on birds causing problems for drivers but also for planes needing to land on the town's local airstrip.

"I've never seen this number before and I've spoken to a lot others who are saying the same," Mr Heath said.


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