LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — They are known as birds of prey. Trained wild animals are used to keep residential and commercial areas clear of rodents and other unwanted pests. It’s a rare form of art being practiced in Las Vegas.

“We can use the predatory behavior of a bird of prey to trigger the respond in small birds or mammals because they are born to have the instinct,” co-owner of Airborne Wildlife Control Service Dave Kanellis told 8 News Now. “We can use the predatory behavior of a bird of prey to trigger the respond in small birds or mammals because they are born to have the instinct”


It is a unique task Kanellis says he has 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 bred in Las Vegas but his origins are from Peru which Kanellis said makes the bird smaller. It’s a crucial factor making it more agile and faster. The bigger the bird, the more room they need to work.

“I can make this bird go anywhere I want by shining a laser beam, I’ve trained him,” Kanellis said. “I can put him in a tree and might have birds in there. He goes and investigates that area.”

Kanellis is one of about 5,000 falconers around the country. He said it’s a lost form of art, now practiced as a sport. He’s taking it to the next level and helping southern Nevada eliminate unwanted visitors.

“If you have a few birds that want to come by and steal your French fries, knock over your drink or steal the packaged sugar. They become a pain,” Kanellis said. “But the birds themselves are the not the problem, it’s what they leave behind. They poop on everything. The smaller the bird the more poop you are going to get.”

Airborne Wildlife Control Services in Las Vegas answers requests for their services on a regular basis from both on and off the Strip and even the airport.

“During a migration, nothing is more appealing than a big piece of open space like the airport to rest,” Kanellis told 8 News Now. “Thousands will rest and when planes are coming and going the birds get sucked in the turbines. They won’t take down a plane but the amount of labor to work and clean them is in the thousands. They can take a plane down, remember Scully in the Hudson?”

Raptors and falcons are trained he said to disperse all the birds. Each one with with a tracking device around their leg.

“Now we have the greatest technology. We have GPS,” Kanellis said. “We can use our phones or tablets and see a real time dot to see where the bird is. We drive there and pick the bird up.”

The bird’s unique talent has even caught the attention of one of Las Vegas’ newest sports team, 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 who are loyal pets.