Mobs of emus have taken over the small mining town of Broken Hill in far west New South Wales, running laps of the main street, eating gardens and gate crashing football matches.
The native birds have been drawn to town in search of food and water as drought worsens, with the region facing its driest start to a year on record.
Emma Singleton from a local wildlife rescue group Rescue and Rehabilitation of Australian Native Animals (RRANA), said there had been an increase in calls from residents concerned about the birds.
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“We are averaging at least two or three callouts a day,” she said.
“They’re all coming in looking for water and food.”
Local man Larry Angel said he did not mind having the visitors around.
“One of the attractions of living in this town is we can have wildlife coming in,” he said.
“I’d rather put up with kangaroos and emus than magpies, we’re just lucky emus don’t swoop!”
He said while enjoyed the novelty, he had been warning tourists to be careful.
“[The emus] are becoming very used to us,” he said.
“We’ve been warning tourists to be careful when they are driving around the city because they’re becoming so much more domesticated they’re becoming a bit of a danger.”
Birds in danger
While many good citizens have put water out for the thirsty birds, Ms Singleton urged people to be careful where they were luring the birds to.
“If you live anywhere with high traffic, please don’t leave water there, you’re encouraging the animals to come in to town and we’re trying to keep them out as much as possible.
“But for those on the outskirts of town, to leave water out is actually a good thing for the poor animals.”
She said many of their callouts were to birds that had been injured.
“Mostly we’re getting callouts for emus being hit by cars, but lately we’ve had a few emus being attacked by dogs,” she said.
“People should be mindful of their dogs and the wild animals at the moment.”