An escaped Emu was terrorizing Clay residents in the Little Goose Creek area in August of 1996 destroying gardens and crops. A reward was offered for its capture and Dog Warden W.O. Henson found the bird on Urban Creek. The remainder of the story is one nobody will every forget as it became one of the most read stories in the history of The Manchester Enterprise.
Editor’s Note: It was a steaming hot day in August of 1996 when Dog Warden W.O. Henson and deputy sheriff Steve England tried to capture the Emu. Enterprise Editor Mark Hoskins tagged along and documented the story. The following is a reprint of the original story.
“It was the worst butt-kicking I’ve ever had in my life,” said Solid Waste Coordinator/Dog Warden W. O. Henson Wednesday afternoon after a five-minute wrestling match with an Emu.
For the last two t0 three weeks the bird, which is a smaller version of an ostrich, has terrorized residents gardens in the Little Goose Creek area, according to Henson.
“It destroyed several gardens,” he said. “It literally pulled the corn stalks out of the ground.”
No one really knew who would be responsible for the capture of the bird until a call was made to the state capital.
“I was informed that the capture of the bird fell onto animal protection,” Henson said. “Which, in our case, is the dog warden. What a way to start a new job.”
Two weeks ago Henson was appointed dog warden by the fiscal court.
The bird supposedly came from a residence on Morgan Branch.
“We are not sure who it belongs to or how it got loose”
Henson searched for the bird for several days until getting a report on its whereabouts on Wednesday.
“It was in a garden on Urban Creek eating corn,” he said. “I knew that if we didn’t catch it this time it was no-telling when we would see it again.”
When Henson and deputy Steve England arrived, they spotted the bird in the lower part of a garden. The two tried to corner the bird and rope it, but that didn’t work.
Henson began chasing the bird around the lot then tackled it.
“He jumped on it’s back and rode it to the ground,” England said. “I didn’t know what to think. He looked like a wrestler coming off the top rope.”
While on the ground, Henson grabbed the bird by the beak and throat and wrapped his legs around it.
“I was trying to keep it from pecking me,” he said. “I wrapped my legs around it hoping it wouldn’t kick me too hard. But it did anyway.”
Deputy England repeatedly tried to tie the Emu’s legs together, but couldn’t due to the kicking.
“I bet the thing kicked me over 100 times,” he said. “Someone told me they had strong legs, but that thing was unbelievable.”
The “wrestling match” between Henson and the bird lasted for several minutes, that was until the bird fell limp.
Apparently, while holding its beak, Henson smothered the bird to death.
“I couldn’t believe it died,” he said. “I must have had my hands over its’ nostril. When I realized it was dead, I opened its’ mouth and blew down its’ throat in an effort to resuscitate the bird, but it didn’t work.”
Henson didn’t walk away from the battle without injury himself.
His pants were literally torn off him by the bird and he received several deep cuts and scratches.
“I had to go to the hospital and get a tetanus shot,” he said. “Man, I wish that bird would have lived, even if it did kick my butt.”
The bird was buried by Henson later that afternoon. Henson further said he hoped he never had to deal with an Emu again.
“I didn’t realize how powerful one of those things was,” he said. “It kicked my brains out. I’ll never fool with one of those things again.”