Rogue emu netted after two months on the run

After scaring a nearby school and being shot at by a stranger, a fugitive emu has finally been caught by police and animal control in Delaware after at least 66 days on the run.

No one has claimed the emu and it's unknown where the bird came from before it was on the lam

An Emu stands on a farm field in Odessa, Del., on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The bird was on the run for the past 66 days and prompted a 'soft' lockdown at 2 Odessa-Townsend area elementary schools Monday. (Jason Minto/The Wilmington News-Journal/AP Photo)

After scaring a nearby school and being shot at by a stranger, a fugitive emu has finally been caught by police and animal control in Delaware after at least 66 days on the run.

On Thursday afternoon animal control officers and Delaware State Police surrounded the 1.8-metre-tall bird, known to locals only as Eddie, near a housing development in Stonefield. 

"The emu is very happy. It's very content," Dan Stonebraker told CBC News. Stonebraker owns the 3 Palms Zoo & Education Centre in Clayton and often assists in capturing loose animals.

It took three tries to capture the bird, and on the second escape, Eddie jumped into a man's backyard. Once they had the bird cornered along the backyard fence, co-owner of the 3 Palms Zoo, Matt Shaffner, threw a net over the animal. 

"I've seen on the news that there was an emu on the loose, but I didn't suspect it was around here,"  Tom Curley told CBS Philadelphia, after they caught the bird in the woods behind his house. 

Stonebraker helped move Eddie into the trailer and has transferred the bird to a secure facility. He described that once the bird was surrounded by four walls and a blanket, it immediately calmed down.

Emu top speed of 65 km/h

Rogue emus can be difficult to capture, since the bird indigenous Australia to can run up to 65 kilometres per hour with the ability to unleash a powerful kick. 

Prior to capture, the emu caused a "soft lockdown" at Spring Meadow Elementary School and Old State Elementary School Monday, according to the Associated Press

The Delaware Department of Agriculture gave police the authority to shoot Eddie, should he become a public security threat.

The request comes after complaints came in by multiple residents nearly ran into the emu or spotted the emu wandering outside during the last two months. 

The emu had also been spotted eating corn in a farm in a neighbouring town, Odessa, according to CBS. The farm owner, Lea Hutchins, noted that the emu had lived on her 40-hectare plot for "probably three months."

"[Someone] pulled along side the road and shot at him," she added. 

Stonebraker said he had concerns that with shotgun season starting Friday, people might shoot the bird.

Bird unclaimed, but comfortable around humans

No one has claimed the emu, so it's unknown where the wanted bird came from before it went on the lam, but Stonebraker speculates Eddie was someone's pet. 

"It was very docile," he said. "It didn't thrash or run off to try and go outside the trailer. It just stood there."

Stonebraker said that he technically now owns the bird and it will be up to him to find new caretaker.

Meanwhile Eddie has made a quick recovery from his adventure, according to Stonebraker. When he checked on the emu Friday morning, Eddie appeared to be much happier.

Canada has had its own experience with lost or wayward emus. Last year, 16-year-old Lucy escaped from a Cassidy, B.C. farm

Lucy, who is a male bird, ran out of his pen after his owner, Tim Genner, forgot to lock the gate. Lucy was only missing for a week, however, before being found on Vancouver Island University's Nanaimo campus. 

Before that, two emus wandered into an Ontario town south of Windsor in 2008, where one of them chased a cyclist until he called the police.


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