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Thirsty Emus Have Invaded a Town in Southeast Australia Amid Worsening Drought

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An Australian mining town has been mobbed by emus searching for food and water as the country’s southeast continues to struggle with drought, BBC reports.

The flightless birds began arriving in Broken Hill, New South Wales, amid one of the state’s driest spells on record.

“They’re actually walking down our main street. We’re seeing mobs of them,” wildlife worker Emma Singleton said.

Large groups of emus have descended on the town, where locals have been putting out food and water. At least five emus have been hit by cars in the past week, Reuters reports.

Singleton said her organization is receiving an average of two or three calls a day from concerned residents.

New South Wales, Australia’s most-populous state and its agricultural powerhouse, was declared in a drought on Aug. 8. Parts of of the state have recorded the lowest levels of rainfall ever this year, with less than 0.39 inches falling in some areas in July, according to BBC.

More than half of neighboring Queensland and parts of Victoria and South Australia are also experiencing unusually dry spells.

Farmers have been hit hard with failing crops, and are also struggling to feed and water livestock. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised cash assistance to the tune of AUS$1.8 billion (US$1.3 billion).

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Write to Laignee Barron at Laignee.Barron@time.com