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The most emu-sing story you'll read today: Wild bird spotted around Orange County

Old Well

The Old Well is a fixture of McCorkle Place.

An emu has been spotted several times across south-central Orange County within the last couple of weeks. Several posts on Facebook by Chapel Hill residents have shown the large bird wandering around roads near the Orange County and Chatham county line. 

Orange County Animal Services has received quite a few phone calls regarding sightings of the bird, said Tenille Fox, spokesperson for Orange County Animal Services.

“That’s very strange to look out of your window and see an emu in your yard,” Fox said.

The emu was spotted on Damascus Church Road on June 27, John Brennan, one of the many people who called Orange County about the bird, said in an email. 

The emu was in the road, seeming to be confused, Brennan said. It moved toward the oncoming lane, fell, then got up and ran westward, into the woods.

The emu has been spotted in Chatham County as well, Sara Pack, administrative lieutenant and public information officer for the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, said. Their Animal Services team is on the lookout.

There have been a number of posts about emu sightings on the social network service Nextdoor.

Once animal services sends officers to the locations of the sightings however, the emu has been very hard to track down because of how fast it moves, Fox said.

Animal services is worried about the safety of the emu, especially in the heat of the summer in North Carolina, Fox said. 

The best case for capturing the animal safely would be for it to be contained somehow, either in a place with natural barriers or in a pasture, Fox said. 

“There was a pig in Carrboro that was loose recently, and he walked into a dog park, into the fenced area, and some nice citizen was kind enough to just close the gate,” Fox said. “That’s how our officers got there and were able to corral him into a trailer without much trouble, because he was in a contained area. But even he was pretty fast, and I think this emu is faster.”

The officers looking for the animal are trying to be careful and keep track of the animal without causing it unnecessary stress or harm, Fox said.

Fox urged the public not to get too close or try to touch the emu if they see it and are able to corral it into a pasture or containment area. Emus are large and fast, and could become defensive if they feel threatened.

Animal Services is hoping to find the owner of the bird soon, so that they may have more information on the animal.

The animal control team of Orange County Animal Services has started to keep track of residents who own livestock in the county, so that it is easier to track down the owner of animals that get loose, Fox said.

Farm animals, such as goats and pigs, more commonly get loose in the Chapel Hill area.

Fox said an emu on the run is a rare occurrence in Orange County.

“If (a lost emu) has happened it was a very long time ago, like probably over a decade,” Fox said. “This is not something we deal with a lot.”

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