If you’re wandering through the scrub near the small town of Nannup in WA and you hear some strange voices singing the 2012 hit song “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone”, don’t be too surprised.
It’s just the local flock of emus that used to hang out in the middle of town, dividing opinion as to whether they were a welcome addition or not.
Recently, though, they decided to hit the road and, quite suddenly, have disappeared from the streets and local gardens where they used to wander, peck and munch with near-impunity.
Nannup’s star attraction or a pain in the posterior?
Depending on who you listen to in the town, located 280km south of Perth, they were either the star attraction or a right pain in the posterior.
As with their departure, the flock’s arrival in the latter part of last year was sudden. Locals speculate that a lack of food and water led them into the town of 1 000-plus people, where there’s fruit to be snatched from trees and well-kept gardens to be foraged in.
Pro-emu faction foresaw a tourism-marketing bonanza
The town divided into two camps, the pro-emu camp arguing that their presence was quite fun and a potential tourism marketing bonanza for the area.
Nannup’s anti-emu movement were unhappy with the damage being done to gardens, the smelly calling-cards left on the pavement and roads, the traffic hazard, and the possibility that the very territorial birds may attack someone if they felt threatened.
At no point, it must be stressed, was serious thought given to culling the birds. At worst, the suggested tactic was to spray feathered offenders with a garden hose.
The local council also decided to erect warning signs for pedestrians and motorists.
The mob decides to go bush for the winter
And then they were gone. With the locals left thinking that an emu in the hand is perhaps better than two that have gone bush.
“It’s 50-50 as to whether they will come back,” Nannup shire president Tony Dean told ABC News.
“Some locals had a bit of a bunfight with them, whereas others were pleased to have them. Either way, there could be much worse problems for a town to be grappling with.”
Jan Steere, a local resident, said while the emus did, sometimes, “help themselves” to ripening fruit and produce from garden beds, they were an otherwise harmless addition to the town.