ORANGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The owner of an emu that went missing in Ionia County over the weekend says it’s unlikely the bird will be captured alive and that it will probably have to be shot.
In a Saturday post on its Facebook Page, Ionia County Central Dispatch said the bird ran away from the 1000 block of E. Peck Lake Road, which is in Orange Township. It may have been spotted in Kent County near M-50, dispatchers said Monday.
Ionia County Central Dispatch described the flightless bird as “like a small ostrich,” and “black and gray and very fast.”
Mary Tasma owns the missing emu. She breeds and raises emus to to slaughter and then sells their meat, oil, etc.
She said that this time of year is mating season for emus, so they get riled up easily.
“When they get to be about 15 months old, then they go crazy,” Tasma said. “They’re maturing and they start fighting. When they fight, they get their toenails caught in that fence out there and they climb right up and fall over, and then they are on their own. The farmers don’t have fences around here no more, so they can go for miles without having to jump another fence. It’s pretty hard to ever catch them when they get loose. We usually have to have someone shoot them and put them down, and then we get them back.”
She said she would prefer to catch the emu alive, but doesn’t think that’s going to happen. She said that if someone spots the emu, she will call her neighbor to slaughter it properly and without damaging the meat.
Tasma said the emu that escaped is likely laying low in the hot weather, but that it should become more active as it cools down.
Anyone who sees the bird should call Central Dispatch at 616.527.0400.
The San Diego Zoo describes the emu as a flightless bird indigenous to Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. They typically live in grassy plains, open forests and scrubland. They grow to between 4.9 and 6.2 feet tall and weigh up to 120 pounds. They live up to 35 years in zoos.
The San Diego Zoo says the emu is related to the ostrich, kiwi, cassowary and rhea.