WHITE PLAINS, Ala. (WIAT) – Louie’s on the loose again.
Louie, a Calhoun County emu, has been on the run for a week and a day since she jumped over a six-foot fence, according to owner Rickey Ashworth.
Ashworth is asking those in the area to keep a lookout for the emu, whose two companions, Huey and Dewey, are still safely at his home in White Plains.
Ashworth said his mother saw the emu’s grand escape.
“When Louie ran up against the fence to jump, her toes caught the fence, and she kicked again and made it over the fence,” Ashworth explained.
His mother hurried to tell him the bad news.
“I told her to lead it back down with a bucket of corn and that I’m on the way,” he said.
When she approached Louie, the family’s dog Winnie spooked the bird. It took off towards the mountains behind Ashworth’s home.
The bird’s speed made it difficult to catch, even with motorized help, Ashworth said.
“I had gotten on my daughter’s four-wheeler and was trying to catch it going down the driveway,” he said. “I know I was doing 25 by the speedometer.”
When a bird can run 30 miles an hour, Ashworth said, it’s a little hard to catch.
And that’s what Ashworth, a truck driver, has been telling members of the community who’ve posted on social media about the emu, who’s made multiple appearances in the area.
“If someone’s emu got out, it’s in my backyard in Rabittown eating all my corn,” a neighbor wrote.
Ashworth responded frankly.
“It is mine,” he wrote. “It got out a week ago and I have been unable to catch it. By the time I get to where it is, it’s already gone.”
This isn’t the first time Louie has gained her freedom. In September, she was on the lam for a couple of days before a local resident trapped Louie in a catch pen.
“Update,” Ashworth posted after the emu’s September capture. “Emu has been apprehended thanks to neighbors, family, and friends. Got a call from a friend on Red Road and my mom, dad, and cousin went to catch it… My mom lassoed it and led it to a smaller pen and had it tied off where we were able to confine it.”
But Louie wouldn’t stay locked up for long.
Ashworth said he acquired Huey, Louie, and Dewey as a Future Farmers of America project for one of his daughters, Mikayla, who attended White Plains High School at the time.
For the most part, Ashworth said he’s liked the emus.
“They’re very comical. They’re interesting,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve enjoyed – that’s the main reason I kept them after graduation.”
His three kids love the emus, he said, and so do their visitors.
He said, though, that because of Louie, who he calls the Houdini of the group, he’ll be installing higher fences with a more bird-proofed design.
“I’m going to the shoot for the moon and go for a 10-foot fence,” he said.
If you come across Louie, Ashworth has some practical advice for how to catch an emu:
“If someone came across it, and they wanted to safely be around it and to help get it into something, the first thing is to make sure you have a large enough entrance to a pen that’s obviously over five feet. A dog kennel, if you have one available, would be a great thing to usher one into. Then, just get a coffee can, like a Folger’s coffee can with some rocks in it or maybe some corn or any kind of feed. If you shake it, it’s going to come to you.”
He said emus can be intimidating, so boldness is key: “Don’t be afraid.”
Rickey said there are some ways he would advise you not to try and catch an emu, too.
“I do not advise trying to put a rope around her neck,” he said. “That’s going to cause her to panic, and she’s going to start jumping and kicking.”
He pauses for a moment.
“And I would not advise taking her in the house.”
Ashworth said he hopes that the story of his emu’s escape causes folks to learn a little more about the birds.
“Learn to take pride in animals,” he said. “The animals were here before we were. I hope people will say ‘I saw this big bird, what was that?’ And they’ll look it up and find out it was an emu and find out more about them.”
If you’ve seen Louie, you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will forward any information to Louie’s owner.