The Great Emu War

The Australian War Against Emus is a fascinating - and true - story of failed wildlife nuisance management in the early-mid 1900’s. 

The video version of this post contains shocking emu footage, and other great content. Watch it now by clicking HERE. 

You can also download the pest-free audio-only podcast version by clicking the widget above! 

Following World War I, a large number of Australian World War I veterans were given land from the government to take up farming in Western Australia. 

However, the Great Depression in 1929 came too soon and made life difficult for these settlers. 

To make matters more difficult, an estimated 20,000 Emus showed up after migrating from mating season, and began raiding the farmer’s crops for their benefit. 

These emus began eating and spoiling the crops, and also messing up the land, allowing other wildlife such as rabbits to take over. 

This wildlife nuisance was severe and threatening to not only destroy the livelihoods of these farmers, but also cause food shortages and other issues to Australia if they kept it up. 

Australia needed a plan, and many of these veterans had experience with fully automatic machine guns, and so they thought of a simple plan… 

Why not use these veterans to attack many of these emus and reduce their populations greatly plus deter them from these areas? 

There was only one problem: emus are a much harder target to hit than anyone would’ve expected. 

On the 2nd of November, 1932, the first offensive began. However, only a very few numbers of birds were killed due to an issue of range with the weapons. 

On the 4th of November, 2 days later, an ambush was planned near a dam. The offensive began wonderfully for the men, but then the gun jammed after killing only 12 birds! 

The remaining birds quickly scattered and no more were able to be captured or killed. 

The men observed that the birds would scatter into packs with one alpha bird watching out for the humans while the other birds would conduct raids on the crops. The alpha bird would notify the other birds to scatter in different directions when human soldiers were spotted with weapons. 

6 days after the beginning of the engagement, 2,500 rounds of ammunition had been fired. The amount of birds killed ranged from 50 to 500. 

Mounting a machine gun to the back of a truck was also attempted, but the birds still managed to escape and firing the weapon on a truck proved highly inaccurate and ineffective. 

Summarising the culls, ornithologist Dominic Serventy commented:

“The machine-gunners' dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month.[13]

On the 8th of November, the military and weapons were withdrawn following negative media coverage of the events that had transpired. 

The media claimed that “only a few emus” had been killed, when in reality the number was closer to 300- still a rather low amount considering the intelligence and tech mankind should possess over these emus. 

Following the withdrawal of the military, the emu attacks on crops continued and fiercely so. 

The farmers once again called for military and government support. They mentioned that hot weather and drought were also exacerbating the issue, causing thousands of emus to take part in the raids in the birds’ desperate attempts to get food and water. 

A new offensive was launched on November 13th, and this time around it was much more successful, killing an estimated 986 emus with 9,860 rounds, a kill rate of about 10 rounds per kill over the course of about a month. 

Regardless, the military was still far less effective than hoped for. Words of the “Great Emu War” spread across the world. Many wondered how it could be possible for a military offensive against large birds to be so ineffective. 

The farmers would request military & government assistance again in 1934, 1943, and 1948, only to be turned down. 

Instead, a bounty system was instigated, which was much more effective: 57,034 bounties were claimed across a 6-month period in the year 1934.

Developments in exclusion barrier fencing in 1930 and onwards became more widespread and quite effective in keeping out wildlife from agricultural crops and farmland. 

While wildlife and pest control may seem like a simple matter, it is often not the case. You can’t just grab a machine gun and handle the situation.

Wildlife & pests are smarter than you might think, and advanced technology may be required to properly keep the wild critters out for good. 

Wildlife & pest infestation can cause severe damages to your home, health, and family. It gets worse with time, so it’s best to handle the situation ASAP or work to prevent it before it happens. 

If you think you have a wildlife or pest infestation, or would like a free inspection report, please give us a call at 855-WILDLIFE or visit for more information. 

-Wildlife x Team International 

Submit a Comment

* Required Field
  • Pest X Team Logo
  • Junk X Team Logo
  • X Team Services Logo
  • X Team Bird Control Logo
  • Gutter X Team Logo
  • Mosquito X Team Logo
As Featured on These Networks & Affiliates
  • Apple News Logo
  • Fox Logo
  • Elite Service Logo
  • National Pest Management Association Logo
  • NWCOA Logo
  • If you have raccoons in your attic, garage, or other areas of your home, call Wildlife X Team® at (817) 431-3007 today! Wildlife X Team are experts in raccoon removal and exclusion services.
  • Squirrel problems are rampant nationally. Squirrels can cause extensive damage in and around homes, including soiling floors and walls. Squirrels don't stand a chance against Wildlife X Team®'s trained professional staff.
  • Rodent problems are common for homeowners, but Wildlife X Team® can help you prevent rodents from getting in your walls or your attic. Keep rodents out of your home by calling today!
  • Removing and relocating bats is best left to professionals, as bats will bite and scratch if threatened. If you see signs of bats on your property or want to know how to get rid of bats from your attic and chimney, please call Wildlife X Team® at (817) 431-3007.
  • Although armadillos have no reason to get into houses, there is a lot of damage armadillos can cause. Their diet consists mostly of grubs and insects, but when they burrow, it can affect the very structure of buildings. Call Wildlife X Team® today!
  • Whether you are facing a snake infestation on your property or just notice a single snake, call (817) 431-3007 at Wildlife X Team® today. Most snakes are harmless, some are venomous, and we can remove all kinds of snakes safely and quickly.
  • Birds can add a lot of enjoyment to the outdoor experience, but sometimes they cause trouble. If you're having an issue with problem birds like pigeons, starlings, or sparrows, give Wildlife X Team® a call at (817) 431-3007.
  • At Wildlife X Team®, we offer worry-free opossum removal and trapping. We can also repair any opossum damage.
  • Infamous for their defense mechanism, skunks are smelly creatures. This unique critter releases a scent to ward off predators and stay safe, and it smells offensive and can be dangerous.
  • Coyotes, a relative of the canine, are known for terrorizing livestock, and even household pets. Coyotes are often active at night, and homeowners often report the howling cries of these medium-sized creatures.
  • Badgers are notorious for having a bite that rivals their bark — despite their less-than-formidable size! Badgers have been known to fight animals as large as a bear!
  • Beaver damage is primarily to landscapes like riverbeds and lakesides. If you discover beaver damage in your property, call Wildlife X Team® at (817) 431-3007 to help relocate beavers and repair any damages caused by these flat-tailed critters.
  • Nocturnal creatures, bobcats will take down any prey necessary, especially livestock. Bobcats are territorial and will often return to the property they have claimed as their own, especially if there is a steady food source.
  • Chipmunks can be annoying and clever creatures, but they're no match for Wildlife X Team®. We offer chipmunk removal, and chipmunk damage repair services, plus we know how to keep chipmunks from coming back!
  • Fox landscape damage and feeding behaviors can affect homeowners' safety, so it's important to not approach a fox if you see one in the wild or on your property. Wildlife X Team® offers fox removal, fox trapping, and fox prevention. Call today!
  • Lizards, similar in appearance to snakes, can be frightening if you spot one in the wild or in your home, and although they don't typically attack residents, it's still good to not approach lizards.
  • Mole damage is most commonly found on landscapes, and sometimes humans don't even come into contact with them, but they definitely experience mole damage.
  • If you have discovered scorpion(s) in your garden or on your property, call us today for scorpion removal services.
  • Voles are not often spotted by humans, but vole damage is visible. For vole trapping, vole removal, and vole damage repair services, call Wildlife X Team® today!
  • Infestations of bugs are common, so if you are facing an insect infestation, don't panic—we can help kill insects and get rid of them inside and outside your home.
  • Wild hog trapping and wild hog prevention are the most effective means of wild hog removal. Due to the aggressive nature of wild hogs, we do not recommend DIY wild hog trapping.
  • Termite infestations are common inside homes and on properties, so if you are dealing with insects, call Wildlife X Team® at (817) 431-3007 today to get rid of your termite problem fast and effectively!
  • Bee and wasp infestations are common, so if you are facing a stinging insect infestation, don't panic — we can help get rid of them inside and outside your home.
Wildlife X Team is rapidly becoming the leader in the nuisance wildlife control industry. We lead the way in the development of technology, education, products and services in Wildlife Management.
Read More About Us
100% Financing
SuperMoney offers 100% financing up to $100,000 and 30 second approvals. You'll fill out one easy form and get competing pre-approved loan offers back in real time.
Apply Now
Wildlife X Team offers an exclusive Wildlife Inspection Report® which includes commonly overlooked areas where wildlife can enter and infest your home.
Project: Control or Eliminate Rodents
They did an excellent job. They worked quickly and efficiently and had the job finished in no time. They are very courteous and professional and easy to work with. They also guaranteed their work for three years.
Jay W., Arlington, TX