Cassowaries Cause Killer Bird Warning in Australia

A warning has been issued for locals and tourists in Mission Beach, Australia to stay away from cassowaries, dangerous birds that are hunting for food after their habitat was destroyed by Cyclone Yasi.

The town along the Queensland coast is a popular tourist spot because it is one of only a few places in Australia where two World Heritage areas –- the Wet Tropics rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef –- meet.

It is vital locals and tourists avoid cassowaries, 6-foot-tall birds that resemble emus and are famed for their long talons and powerful legs, reports the Telegraph newspaper.

Named the most dangerous birds in the world by the Guinness Book of Records in 2007, there are only about 1,100 of the fearsome cassowaries left in the wild.

The flightless birds live in the rainforest, but local authorities and green groups have warned that cassowaries are likely to be forced from their habitat in the coming weeks since the winds from Cyclone Yasi stripped trees of fruit, the main food source for the birds.

The government has warned locals to be on the lookout for hungry birds, and is currently arranging aerial food drops for the cassowaries in an attempt to keep the dangerous birds away from residential and tourist areas.

"It's vital that members of the public don't feed cassowaries -- for their own safety and in the interests of the birds' survival long term," Kate Jones, the Queensland sustainability minister, tells the Telegraph.

The highly aggressive birds are said to be able to easily disembowel humans with their claws, but only one human death has been attributed to the birds. In 1926 Phillip McClean, 16, was killed after a bird knocked him down and slashed his neck with a claw while McClean and his brother attempted to beat a cassowary.

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