- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A day after residents of Wicomico Shores saw an emu strolling down the street, the large, flightless bird was captured Monday by two animal wardens and taken to the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville.
Tony Malaspina, St. Mary’s County’s animal control supervisor, said this week he didn’t know who the bird belonged to. “Nobody’s reported it missing,” he said.
The bird was spotted Sunday by residents of Wicomico Shores after 10 a.m. “It was the most bizarre thing,” said Thomas Dennison. A car ahead of his slowed down on Aviation Yacht Club Road, the main road into the neighborhood, and Dennison saw something on the side of the road.
“I was coasting right along with it,” he said. “It didn’t seem aggressive or scared. It just kind of meandered down the road. It’s one of those things you don’t see every day.”
Earlier this year an emu was on the loose in Calvert County for several days. It met its demise when a hunter shot and killed it off Chaneyville Road in Owings.
The emu in Wicomico Shores was about 6 feet tall and weighed between 80 and 90 pounds, said Animal Warden Edward Boswell.
Boswell couldn’t find the bird on Sunday, but the wardens located it the next day and followed it into a field enclosed by an electrified fence, which they had activated, near Indiantown Road.
They couldn’t use a noose on a pole as they do for dogs because it could have killed the bird, which has a thin neck. So they shot a net from a gun onto the bird. It tried to wriggle free, but the net wrapped around its legs and feet, which have talons that can do harm to a person, Boswell said.
“These little guys can do a lot of damage,” he said, and can easily jump an 8-foot fence.
After it was netted, Warden Amanda Whipkey tried to hold the bird down, but was tossed off. Boswell was able to keep it down while the emu was tied up for transport.
This wasn’t the first emu Boswell has captured. “I’ve got a few of them before,” he said. Emus are raised as livestock in St. Mary’s and elsewhere.
The bird itself and its eggs can be eaten and its feathers, oil and skin can be used to make products like shoes, Boswell said. An emu egg can easily fill an adult person’s palm.
Boswell said he was happy that the bird was captured humanely.
From the animal shelter, “they’ll probably try to find a farm to put him on,” he said.
Edward Tucker, chief of Charles County Animal Control Services, said Tuesday the animal shelter will hold the emu for a total of five days to see if an owner comes to claim the bird.
After that, St. Mary’s County can relinquish any claim to it and it can be put up for adoption. “They can certainly express interest to the shelter supervisor,” he said.