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The Great Emu War

The Great Emu War

When Australia Faced Off Against Flightless Foes

The Great Emu War is the name given to a military operation aimed at reducing the number of large, flightless Emu birds that inhabit Australia and damage farmland. The operation was carried out towards the end of 1932.
Royal Australian Artillery soldiers were used in operations to reduce the Emu population in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.
Although large numbers of birds were killed in these operations, the emu population continued to grow, leading to the destruction of agricultural crops.

Causes of the Emu War

Following the First World War, many soldiers serving in the war were given land by the Australian government to farm in Western Australia, often in relatively agriculturally difficult areas.
With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, these farmers were encouraged to increase their wheat crops. Wheat prices continued to fall during the crisis, exacerbating already existing tensions between the government and farmers.
On top of this, an estimated 20,000 emus entered wheat fields in the region, exacerbating farmers’ problems. Emus regularly migrate inland to the coast after the breeding season. However, land given to soldiers returning from the war has been cleared and cultivated with water resources, making it suitable for both agriculture and livestock.

Development of Events

Realizing this, the emus realized that this land was now a good habitat. And they began to flock to the farmland, especially around Chandler and Walgoolan. The growing emu population began to cause great damage to both the crops and the soil. The damage caused by these large birds was not limited to crops and soil.
The farmers sent a delegation of ex-servicemen to meet with the Minister of Defense, Sir George Pearce, to express their concern about the damage these birds were doing to their crops. (p) What the farmers (ex-servicemen) wanted was to protect their land from these birds with their wartime machine guns.

Soldier-settlers who had served in the First World War were aware of the effectiveness of machine guns and demanded their use. After negotiations, the government agreed, albeit with some conditions.

The War Begins

The military intervention was to begin in October 1932. However, the operation was postponed due to rain. The postponed operation began on November 2. However, it proceeded extremely unsuccessfully. Hearing the gunfire, the emus split into groups and began to flee rapidly. In a very short time they were out of range of the guns.

In the first trial, which lasted about a week, it is estimated that between 50-250 emus were killed for about 2500 spent bullets.In addition, according to military records of the period, emus could now plunder a crop while an observing emu watched them and, when in doubt, drove the herd away.

After the army retreated following the initial operation, the emu attacks on crops continued. Farmers once again asked for support, citing the hot weather and drought that caused thousands of emus to invade farms.

The government launched another military operation. There was a military report that 300 emus were killed in the first operation. To combat the serious agricultural threat posed by the large emu population, the army went into the field on November 13, 1932 and spent 9860 rounds of ammunition, killing close to 3500 emus in about a month.
Despite the problems with culling and the general failure, farmers in the area once again requested military assistance in 1934, 1943 and 1948, but these were rejected by the government. Instead, the reward system introduced was continued and proved effective: 57,034 bounties were claimed over a six-month period in 1934.

The war against emus became a hot topic in the United Kingdom. It was strongly criticized by animal lovers, while others supported it. During and after these wars, exclusion barrier fencing became a popular way of keeping emus (in addition to other pests such as dingoes and rabbits) off farmland.

Consequences of the Emu War

By November 1950, the emu problem still existed, although not with the same intensity as before. One of the most interesting battles in history was the military operations that began in Australia when the emu, a large flightless bird, caused extensive damage to farmland and crops.

One of the most interesting battles in history was the military operations that began in Australia when emus, a large flightless bird, caused extensive damage to farmland and crops.

One of the most interesting wars in history was the military operations that began in Australia when the emu, a large flightless bird that lives in Australia, caused great damage to farmland and crops.


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