The three-toed Australian bird was spotted by motorists Wednesday after it appeared in the median in McDuffie County between the Thomson and Camak exits, said Law Enforcement Capt. Thomas Barnard, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
"The biggest concern was the threat to motorists," he said. "Since an emu is technically livestock, it doesn't normally fall under our jurisdiction."
After numerous 911 calls, DNR, the State Patrol and other agencies converged at the scene and blocked traffic on both lanes of I-20 in attempts to corner the bird.
Columbia County's Animal Control officers helped capture it, Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said.
"They surrounded it in the median -- with a lot of caution because emus will hurt you," she said. "One of the Animal Control officers grabbed its legs; and another grabbed the upper body; and another put a covering over its head; and they loaded into the truck. It kicked so hard in the truck that the latch on the truck broke. It was actually very well handled."
Emus are native to Australia and are the planet's second-largest bird, behind the ostrich. They are sometimes raised as livestock.
Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.