Emu that evaded authorities for months in North Carolina died during capture attempt

A very close profile photograph of the head of an emu showing detail in the eye and beak

NORTH CAROLINA — After several months at large, an emu in North Carolina was found — but the bird died during an attempt to capture and relocate it to a sanctuary, Orange County Animal Services said Thursday.

The emu, whom Orange County workers had dubbed Eno, was known for popping up in front yards throughout central North Carolina since June.

Despite widespread publicity, no one came forward to claim ownership of the bird, according to Orange County Animal Services spokesperson Tenille Fox.

Every time Orange County Animal Services got a call about an Eno sighting, the department would send staff to track the bird down. By the time they would arrive on scene, however, the emu — which can run up to 30 miles an hour — was never anywhere to be found, Fox said.

Orange County Animal Services fed and cared for Eno for weeks and consulted with outside experts to come up with a capture plan. Orange County Animal Services Director Bob Marotto said in a news release that the county made the decision to capture and relocate the bird for its own welfare and the community’s safety.

“We were concerned it could come out on the roadway and cause an accident or be injured itself, and we were also concerned with the opening of hunting season,” Marotto said. “We didn’t feel leaving it alone was a viable option.”

The capture plan was developed with a veterinarian who specializes in birds and two specialists from the North Carolina Zoo, who were there for the attempt and were involved in sedating the bird to make it easy to transport it, according to Marotto.

The bird did not respond to the low dose of sedatives, he said, and eventually “suffered an event” while being restrained and died.

The team tried to revive the bird with CPR but was unsuccessful, according to Marotto.

“Everyone is devastated,” he said.

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