Friday, November 12, 2010

Emu Wars

I use the Wikipedia main page as the homepage on my computer. There's something interesting, something educational and something bizarre to read every day.

This item under 'On this Day' caught my attention today:

1932 – The Australian military authorised the second phase of a "war" against Emus, a flightless native bird blamed for widespread damage to crops.

The Emu War, also known as the Great Emu War, was a nuisance wildlife management operation undertaken in Australia over the latter part of 1932 to address public concern over the number of emus said to be running amok in the Campion district of Western Australia. The attempts to curb the population of emus, a large flightless bird indigenous to Australia, employed soldiers armed with machine guns – leading the media to adopt the name "Emu War" when referring to the incident.

 You can read the complete article, but it is interesting that the emus appeared more than a match for the machine guns sent against them

The machine-gunners' dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month.

 The ability of the emu to face up to machine guns obviously made a deep impression on the officer commanding the force sent against them.

If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world...They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks.
Major G.P.W. Meredith of the Seventh Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery

There is clearly an important question being left unanswered here - should emus ever choose to 'run amok' again how will we stop them?

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