LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — At one South Summerlin golf course, hawks are on the hunt for rabbits that have been chewing up the green.
Falconers have spent the past week or two out at Siena Golf Club with their birds, thinning out the number of wild cottontail rabbits.
Birds of prey like hawks and falcons have been used for decades to help cut down on the overpopulation of specific wildlife, like cottontail rabbits.
"Raptor abatement, which is an actual effective means for curbing nuisance wildlife, is utilized around the world now," said Dave Kanellis. "It's been probably recognized since the late '90s."
Kanellis and his wife Civon run the Airborne Wildlife Control Service. They say they received permission from the Siena Golf Course to use their birds to help them thin out the rabbit population on the course.
"These rabbits cause a lot of destruction," Kanellis said. "I mean, there's holes that people can trip in. They eat up all the plants and flowers that the residents might plant in their backyard."
Some concerned neighbors contacted 13 Action News, worried about what the birds' presence might mean for small dogs and cats in the area.
But the falconers working at Siena Golf Club said pet owners have nothing to worry about. These birds are trained to know the difference between a dog and a rabbit.
"They're trained, basically, that a rabbit is a prey species," Kanellis said. "And that's their target animal; that's what they're looking for. All the other stuff is, for the most part, meaningless to them."
The Kanellis' emphasized that their birds are trained to focus on hunting cottontail rabbits, specifically.
"As responsible adults and falconers, we would never bring a bird that we would ever consider a risky situation," Kanellis said. "We would only bring birds we know and trust and that we have vetted and have been working around."