‘Something serious is sure to happen’ - Cassowary expert’s fears over Etty Bay birds
Video of a cassowary mingling with beachgoers near Innisfail has raised concerns that someone could be seriously hurt.
The footage taken at Etty Bay on Sunday, shows the cassowary in a crowd of people near the lifesaving flags, poking through people’s belongings.
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Cassowary expert Dr Graham Lauridsen has spent years researching the birds at Etty Bay.
The Cassowary Coast veterinarian told Tropic Now they’re interacting with humans because they associate them with food.
“While these birds do not show a lot of aggressive behaviour in the recent footage, I have seen other footage in the past that is quite concerning,” he said.
“If people pull food away from them or if young children move quickly or startle the birds something serious is sure to happen sooner or later.
“These birds are amazing and beautiful but need to be treated with a lot more respect for the potential they possess to cause serious injury.”
Dr Lauridsen said cassowaries have the title of the ‘world’s most dangerous bird’ for a reason.
“These birds can weigh up to 75 kilograms, stand 180 centimetres tall and have a sharp dagger-like claw on the inside toe of each leg that they will use as a weapon.
“While interactions with these birds occur every day in North Queensland, from time to time serious interactions do occur,” he said.
“Last year in Tully a person ended up in hospital for several days as a result of an aggressive bird and we treat quite a number of dogs each year with cassowary-inflicted injuries.”
He’s urging people to observe cassowaries only from afar and if they are approached, to ensure they have something solid between themselves and the bird, such as a car or tree.
Under no circumstances should cassowaries be fed.
“This behaviour is brought about by the amount of food that is freely given to these birds, such that they will happily walk up to the picnic tables and help themselves,” Dr Lauridsen said.
“The authorities are aware of the issue and there are warning signs up to not feed these birds but it continues anyway.
“The locals have become far too complacent around these birds as well.”