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Parks service reveals decision on contentious emu in conservation park

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The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service says it has no plans to relocate an emu that has sparked official complaints and significant community debate, but it will take some action.

A Department of Environment and Science spokesperson said the controversial bird would remain in Parklands Conservation Park. However, additional signs will be installed to inform park-goers how to stay safe and rangers will continue to monitor the ratite.

Droves of people took to social media with messages of support for the bird, dubbed ‘Fluffy’, in August, after formal complaints were made about it.

Sunshine Coast News can now reveal that four objections were lodged during the past three months, seven within the past year and 10 within the past five years.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb for accountability, credibility and transparency.

But several of the grievances were from one person.

One of the people who complained, horse rider Tania Stickler, said the emu posed a risk and could frighten and/or attack walkers, runners, bike riders and horse riders.

She said it had become reliant on people.

“The park runners have been feeding it and they have created a monster,” she said.

The photogenic emu at the parkland. Picture: Steve Roberts

“It depends on people now, rather than being with its own kind.

“So, when people aren’t feeding it, it is bound to attack.

“It will take something bad to happen for the emu to be moved to a safer place.”

Former Sunny Coast Trail Horse Riders president Patricia Croft, who did not speak on behalf of the club, has previously told SCN there have been “quite a few incidents” involving recreational riders and the emu in the past.

“Horses have been spooked and people have come off,” she said.

Parklands Conservation Park is popular among bike riders, horse riders, runners and walkers. Picture: Steele Taylor

The emu was previously a pet, held without a permit, at a neighbouring property, but when the owners moved away it moved into the park.

It’s believed that ‘Fluffy’ and his brother ‘Morton’ shifted into the park, although only the former seems to go near people.

Many park-goers and animal advocates, including Wildlife Rescue Sunshine Coast CEO Claire Smith, have told SCN that he is a much-loved animal.

“He has been running with the Nambour parkrun group for a long time,” she said.

“Everybody in Nambour knows Fluffy, and people from around the country come to Nambour just to run with him.”

Wildlife Rescue Sunshine Coast CEO Claire Smith with ‘Fluffy’ the emu.

A DES spokesperson said many park-goers enjoyed the company of the birds, which are expected to become more placid.

“QPWS has received multiple reports of user groups having positive interactions with emus,” the spokesperson said.

“There is support from park users, neighbours and wildlife groups for the species to stay in the park.

“Local rangers continue to monitor the health and behaviour of the emus.

“QPWS advises that as emus mature, their temperament during breeding season becomes less aggressive.”

Ms Smith had previously expressed concerns that ‘Fluffy’ might be moved to a farm and killed for meat.

But the department spokesperson said there was no intention to move him anywhere.

Instead, more signs would be erected to let park-goers know about him.

“QPWS has no plans to relocate the emu as this has potential to stress the animal,” they said.

“QPWS will install additional signage in the coming weeks to assist in informing the public about emus and actions people can take to stay safe.”

A sign at the park entrance to the park. More signs will be installed. Picture: Steele Taylor

The spokesperson urged people to steer clear of the birds.

“Emus are a protected species and members of the public are reminded to keep their distance and never feed wild animals.”

Ms Stickler said ‘Fluffy’ should not stay in the park just because he was popular.

“I think that is ludicrous: using an animal as mascot,” she said.

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