If you don’t see the connection between dinosaurs and modern birds, take one look at the cassowary. The crested avians can grow as large as 125 pounds and have razor-sharp toe claws capable of slashing open human bellies. They may not know how to open doors, but that hasn’t stopped the "world’s deadliest bird" from attempting to break into houses in Queensland, Australia, Motherboard reports.
The state’s latest cassowary incident occurred when a young bird, known to locals as “Ruthie,” threatened a man and tried to enter his Innisfail home. Officials believe that residents had inadvertently conditioned the animal to treat humans as a food source by feeding her, which would explain her aggressive behavior.
Ruthie makes the second cassowary this month that’s been relocated from Queensland by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP). The week before, a male cassowary was removed after attacking a man in Tully.
The victim survived the altercation with only cuts and bruises, which is more than some can say after encountering a cassowary. In 1926, a 16-year-old Queensland boy died of blood loss after being pinned down by the bird and gashed in the neck. That's the only recorded human death the creature’s been responsible for, but as long as people continue to feed cassowaries they’ll be at risk of attack.
The issue has become so desperate that the EHP released a statement on August 19 reminding residents not to treat the birds like pets. They wrote:
“The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is reminding people not to feed cassowaries as it can lead to them becoming habituated and aggressive. Young birds may seem harmless but if they become accustomed to human interaction it can lead to aggressive behavior which is far more dangerous as the bird matures.”
Giving food to cassowaries can be just as disastrous for the birds as it is for people. Only 20 to 25 percent of their original habitat remains, and encouraging them to look to residential areas for food increases their chances of becoming road kill.
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