Originally created 10/31/06

Free-range emus need to be fenced and fed



They are flightless, but Columbia County Animal Care and Control officials hope a pair of emus will fly their coop.

In response to a complaint, the department captured the birds a week ago.

They had been roaming free on Reynolds Farm Road near Grovetown, according to an e-mail from county Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker.

The emus are available for adoption for $10 each.

Animal Control Director Linda Fulmer said her officers were unable to find an owner of the birds, which are native to Australia, and exhausted a list of people possibly interested in adopting them.

It's not the first time animal control has played host to emus, Ms. Fulmer said.

"There were something of a fad several years ago, with people raising them for their meat," she said. "When that meat market never materialized, people just started letting them loose."

A full-grown emu can weigh as much as 140 pounds and run at speeds exceeding 30 mph, Ms. Fulmer said.

Anyone adopting an emu needs a penned area with tall fences, she said; bird feed will sustain them.

Emu owners should exercise caution in handling the big birds, Ms. Fulmer warned.

"If you corner them, they can try to get you with their sharp claws, so be careful," she said.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

Adopt an emu

Anyone interested in adopting the emus is asked to call (706) 541-4077 or visit the animal control facility at 6337 Columbia Road in Appling.