LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — They are known as birds of prey. Trained wild animals used to keep residential and commercial areas free from rodents and other unwanted pests. It’s a rare art form practiced here in Las Vegas.
“We can use the predatory behavior of a bird of prey to trigger the response in small birds or mammals because they’re born to have instincts,” Airborne Wildlife Control Service co-owner Dave Kanellis told 8 News Now. “We can use the predatory behavior of a bird of prey to trigger the response in small birds or mammals because they are born to have instincts”
It’s a unique task that Kanellis says he’s mastered over the past 40 years. A hobby that turned into a full-time job. Kanellis works with Ranger. Ranger is a hawk and was bread and butter in Las Vegas, but his origins are from Peru, which Kanellis says makes the bird look smaller. This is a crucial factor that makes it more agile and faster. The bigger the bird, he says, the more space it needs to work.
“I can make this bird go anywhere I want by shining a laser beam, I trained it,” Kanellis said. “I can put it in a tree and put birds there. He will investigate this area.
Kanellis is one of approximately 5,000 falconers in the country. He says it’s a lost art form, now practiced as a sport. It takes it to the next level and helps Southern Nevada weed out unwanted visitors. “If you have a few birds that want to come and steal your fries, spill your drink or steal the packaged sugar. They become a pain,” Kanellis said. “But the birds themselves aren’t the problem, it’s what they leave behind. They poop on everything. The smaller the bird, the more you’re going to poop.
Airborne Wildlife Control Services in Las Vegas regularly responds to requests for their services both on and off the Strip and even at the airport. “During a migration, nothing is more attractive than a large open space like the airport to rest,” Kanellis told 8 News Now. “Thousands of people go to rest and when the planes come and go, the birds are sucked into the turbines. They won’t get off the plane, but the amount of work to work and clean them is in the thousands. They can bring down a plane, remember Scully in the Hudson?
Raptors and falcons are trained, he says, to disperse all the birds. Each with a tracking device around their leg. “Now we have the best technology. We have GPS,” Kanellis said. “We can use our phones or tablets and see a point in real time to see where the bird is. We drive there and pick up the bird.
The bird’s unique talent even caught the eye of one of Las Vegas’ newest sports teams, the Vegas Knight Hawks.
Kanellis says the birds require years of training and constant attention. He says they are wild animals and their instincts can kick in unlike dogs or cats which are loyal pets.