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Cassowaries hungry after Cyclone Yasi

CAIRNS, Australia, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Queensland residents in the area of Northeast Australia struggling to rebuild after Cyclone Yasi have been warned not to feed the cassowaries.

The flightless birds -- 6 feet tall, weighing up to 150 pounds and heavily clawed -- have a fearsome reputation. But the cassowaries, an endangered species that normally lives in the rain forests of the Australian tropics, were also hard hit by the cyclone, The Cairns Post reported.

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Cassowaries are said to be able to kill a dog or even a horse or human with one kick. Conservation groups said Wednesday there were reports of dogs attacking starving birds that emerged from the rain forest in Mission Beach seeking food.

Food for the birds was being delivered by air drop to 20 feeding stations set up in the rain forest.

In the meantime, residents of what is sometimes called the Cassowary Coast were warned against running their own feeding operations -- for the birds' own good.

"Cassowaries that come to expect food from humans can become aggressive and dangerous," Kate Jones, the Queensland sustainability minister, said last week.

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