END OF THE LINE?: Two emu chicks feeding on tiny new shoots. Are these the last generation of Coastal Emus?
END OF THE LINE?: Two emu chicks feeding on tiny new shoots. Are these the last generation of Coastal Emus?

Less than 100 coastal emus left

THERE are less than 100 Coastal Emus left on the NSW North Coast.

According to the Office of Environment and Heritage, the dire situation means the emus are under threat of extinction.

Ecologist Greg Clancy said the numbers are getting smaller and smaller each year.

"The frustrating thing is, we don't really know what's happening to them," he said. "We know we've lot a number of them being hit by vehicles.

"At Minnie Water they've disappeared now for a number of years, a few years ago there was a male with a few young ones hit by a car.

"Road kills themselves don't explain the full decline, we're trying to find out what is prEying on the eggs and the small young."

Barriers like fences that prevent movement are also a contributing factor in emu deaths.

Mr Clancy said the Coastal Emu Alliance has been operating for a few years with members from different government departments and community groups.

The alliance believe pigs, wild and domestic dogs could be contributing to the issue.

"We've reached a point where we are desperate to find out what is happening and we think it's a whole lot of contributing factors," he said.

At one point, there were emus from Evans Head to Red Rock, but now they are only seen in a few places in the Clarence Valley and at Bungawalbin between Grafton and Casino.

To help combat the decline in Coastal Emu numbers, council and the OEH have joined forced through a NSW Environment Trust grant to help improve the outcomes for the endangered population.

Caragh Heenan, council natural resource management project officer, said the work included on the ground actives to address the threats to emus.

Ms Heenan said a count was supposed to occur this year, but due to fires it was unable to happen.

However, at the last count which was done by reports, they believe there are about 33 birds in the Clarence Valley and seven birds near Bungawalbin.

"There have been no adults or chicks seen around Minnie Water since 2014, and none seen near Pebbly Beach or Station Creek since 2011," she said.

"There are no known breeding locations.

"There have been 72 emu deaths since 2000 due to emu car strike according to Wires, which is up to date since a month ago."

Ms Heenan said the council had launched an online register of coastal emus in conjuction with the OEH with funding through the NSW Environment Trust.

"The register will help council gather data on where emus are located in the landscape to further learn about why emus prefer a particular habitat, why certain habitats contain more individuals than other similar habitats, and why emus are declining from particular areas," she said.

"By understanding their distribution we can determine the conservation value of regional zones and further develop management guidelines for natural resources."

OEH plan to conduct an official search in the new year.

Visit the page at www.clarenceconversations.com.au/coastalemus to explore the register and post your story.