Massachusetts police used sock to calm emu that 'terrorized' community

A Massachusetts community can sleep a little easier after a high-stakes police operation Monday nabbed a menace that had "terrorized" locals: an emu.

Police officers in Franklin, a city roughly 45 miles south of Boston, spotted the tall creature and didn't know what to do, blaming deficient police academy training on the crucial subject that left them with "little to no training in corralling large birds."

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Undeterred, investigators said in a Facebook post they "went to work and quickly found the owner of [said] Emu," and then set off to find the massive bird itself.

The bird's owner, Kathy Gatchell, told WFXT she isn't sure how the emu got out of its pen, but the jailbird's skills and disposition made it a high-risk escapee, with Gatchell describing emus as "very difficult to catch" and not "very friendly."

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Those working to find the emu spent nearly an hour searching for it through the woods. Gatchell said the bird "didn't let us get too close, as soon as we got close she'd run."

An emu got loose from his pen in Franklin, Mass. on Monday. 

An emu got loose from his pen in Franklin, Mass. on Monday.  (Franklin Police Department)

Eventually, someone had the idea to play emu noises from their phone to try to attract the bird.

Sgt. Jason Reilly, one of the officers on the mission, said that when the bird got close, one police officer "took his sock off and put it over the emu's head" — which is apparently a way to calm them down — and the cops then led the bird home.

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"In a joint operation with the Animal Control Officer and the Franklin Police Safety Division, Officer Rosa and Sgt Reilly were able to bring the Emu home where it can no longer terrorize motorists of Lincoln Street," the department wrote online. "No job too small no bird too big!"

Emus are the second-largest bird by height in the world, after the ostrich (and they're not nearly as amiable or easy to find as another popular big bird that tends to confine itself to one particular street). It's unclear how tall the emu spotted in Franklin was, but it certainly wasn't native to the area, as the birds call Australia home.