Protection of endangered emus: a community responsibility, urges Council

Clarence Valley Council is urging locals to consider installing emu-friendly fencing to help protect the last 50 coastal emus remaining in this endangered population.

Clarence Valley Council’s natural resource management project officer, Dr Caragh Heenan, said “members of the public are encouraged to consider the needs of native wildlife when installing fencing and choose wildlife-friendly options. Many fences in critical coastal emu habitat around Shark Creek and Taloumbi were destroyed after the recent fires, so rethinking the fencing needs of the landholder could play a critical role in protecting the coastal emu.”

“Barriers to movement are one of the main threats to the coastal emu. Certain kinds of fencing or thick weed growth can limit the ability of the coastal emu to access food trees and habitat.”

“Vehicle strike also increases in areas where fences are built close to the roadside, as emus cannot cross the road easily,” she said.

“It’s natural to want to mark out a property boundary, but if a fence isn’t needed to keep stock contained, then having no fence at all will benefit this endangered coastal emu population,” explained Dr Heenan.

“Emus can struggle to get through a four-strand, plain wire fence, but even changing to three strands can make a difference. Barbed wire, mesh, and electric fencing all have an impact on emus and so are discouraged.”

“Allowing coastal emus to move freely in our landscape helps the birds and the native vegetation, as emus disperse seed and promote germination of many of the native shrubs, herbs and grasses in our region,” Dr Heenan said.

With the odds against them, coastal emus need your help. Following the recent bushfires, we are now more interested than ever in receiving sightings of emus, particularly chicks. Sightings can be reported on the Coastal Emus in the Clarence register at www.clarenceconversations.com.au/coastalemus.


Coastal emus are at risk of extinction, with fences acting as a barrier to movement and proving a threat to their survival. Image credit: S. Otton.

Categories: wildlife, emu, coastal emu, animal
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