A mad emu gave deputies a Texas-sized hard time. El Paso authorities say the big bird was running loose Tuesday, snarling rush-hour traffic near Interstate 10 and attacking deputies trying to restrain it. Deputies with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office tried to prevent the tall, flightless bird from running into traffic. But when deputies neared the emu, it became aggressive and slashed one deputy's pant leg.
The deputy was not seriously injured.
The emu died as it was being transported to an animal control shelter. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Hmmmm ... Publicly attacking Sheriff's deputies then mysteriously dying during transport on the way to the hoosgow. Except for the emu part, the story sounds eerily familiar. Payback's a bitch, I guess, even for flightless birds. ;)
Just kidding, folks: I have no knowledge of the incident beyond these few lines and am NOT accusing deputies of intentionally killing the animal. But it sure must have been quite a scene.
BONUS EMU STORY: Part of why this struck me as humorous and blogworthy, I suppose, stems from a seldom-told tale about an up close and personal encounter with an emu I had nearly 20 years ago, back when I was a cub reporter working for The Texas Observer. I was down in South Texas working on a story, in Willacy County, to be exact, and the raggedy-ass Dodge pickup I owned at the time blew a tire on the lonely, little-traveled stretch of road between Raymondville and Port Mansfield, a small fishing village across from the northern end of Padre Island. I pulled over into the ditch off the narrow, two-lane road, pulled the jack from behind the pickup seat and proceeded around to the back, passenger-side tire which had hit a nail and blown out.
In that big ol' Dodge truck, there wasn't much space between the road and the fenceline where I'd pulled over, but I paid little attention to what I assumed was a cow pasture behind me. There was plenty of space to work. So I crouched down to turn my attention toward the blown tire, and no sooner had I begun to place the jack, I was bitten sharply, twice in succession, bang, bang, really hard in the arm and the shoulder, with a loud squawk following each of the rapid-fire attacks. Stunned and confused, I turned and rose just in time to see an image much like the photo above headed straight toward my face as the emu (one of a pack now gathered behind the fence) fired his long neck forward again, this time biting the side of my face and drawing blood.
I stumbled away in near-disbelief. After I regained my composure, I tried warily to return to the tire changing task, but the fence was way too close and the bird(s) were, for whatever reason, openly hostile and threatening. It just wasn't going to happen. I finally dodged in, risking but avoiding another nip from the bird to grab the jack and tire iron, but in avoiding the nip I lost my hat - just a cheap gimme cap from some long-forgotten vendor, which now lay right next to the fenceline where the flock of menacing birds were stationed. I looked for a moment at my hat, looked back at the birds, resigned myself to their victory, then climbed into the driver's seat of the truck to make a U-turn, blown tire and all, to the other side of the road. I fixed the flat there, with the angry flock of emu staring me down the whole time from across the way. Never did retrieve that cap.
Like I said, payback is a bitch.