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Images: Stephen Otton

Vandals endanger endangered emus

Brooms Head resident, Stephen Otton, is well known around the village for his passion for animals, particularly those that tread the line between wild and tame – like the recently deceased brumby (locally known as Wildfire or Brumbles) and a dingo Mr Otton christened ‘Dusty Phantom’ (some called him as Ernie), which the National Parks and Wildlife Service euthanised under NSW feral dog laws.

Caring for the area’s emus is another of Mr Otton’s passions and, having, identified a ‘corridor’ often used by the emus, he has over recent years erected signs advising motorists that emus cross there.

Sadly, Mr Otton’s makeshift signs are targeted by vandals from time to time and end up broken and scattered about the place, or as one poster on the Friends of Brooms Head Facebook page put it: “What sort of dickhead would do that?????”

“This is the second time it’s happened,” Mr Otton said.

“I first put the signs up about two months ago when the emus started getting active.

“On one particular day I saw a pair tripping into the cane and back again later on.

“The emus are usually more active in the early morning and evening, when the traffic is heavier.”

Perplexed by the vandalism, Mr Otton said that, perhaps, the same person was responsible for breaking the signs on each occasion.

“Why destroy the signs and throw them in the bush?” he said.

“It’s puzzling, isn’t it?”

On June 20, Mr Otton recounted one of his experiences, which he titled, ‘An Emu Incident’, on the Friends of Brooms Head Facebook page.

“I’m sitting on 80km on my way home from town.

“It was getting dark when I came into the (slow down EMU active area) and there on the side of the road are two emus, one inside the fence, the other outside.

“I slow to a crawl and … when I get a fair way from them, I swing around and stop with flashers on, to warn oncoming traffic.

“OMG, then it was on. One emu decides to take a walk on the road as a ute comes around the bend, driving cautiously from town.

“It stops and the emu crosses in front of it then it turns back and crosses in front of it again, as though it was playing games.

“Then it decides, ‘golly gee, I might go back again.’

“…Around the corner, at well over 100kms, a tourist is coming from the Brooms Head direction.

“I jump out waving, down boy’, and the driver slows down; meanwhile, traffic from the other direction is mounting as the emu is back on the road again.

“So, then the tourist decides he wants a photo or two and drives into the paddock like a #$%* idiot then takes off towards Maclean.

“Meanwhile the emu makes it over the farmer’s gate into the cane field to meet its partner and off they go into the distance they go.”


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