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Red-tailed hawk seen eating invasive iguana in South Florida


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Paul Farren captured the moment a red tailed hawk captured an invasive iguana on a Hollywood, Florida. Red-tailed hawks aren’t common in South Florida.

Paul Farren photo

A red-tailed hawk is being cheered on social media, after it was seen eating an invasive iguana on a Florida golf course.

The moment was photographed March 12, near the 14th hole of the East Course at Orangebrook Golf & Country Club in Hollywood.

Paul Farren says he and his golfing partner, Dexter George, paused just long enough to see the hawk taking a bite out of the lizard.

Male iguana can reach 5 feet in length, so it was clearly a young lizard.

“There are many much larger ones all over the course,” Farren told McClatchy News. “We see iguanas all the time. This is the first one I have seen as prey.”

His photo was shared on social media by the South Florida Wildlands Association, which referred to it as an “amazing capture” for both the hawk and Farren.

“Though red-tailed hawks are the most common hawks in North America, in South Florida, red-shouldered hawks are much more common. So this photo is unusual on a number of levels,” the association wrote.

The incident comes about 10 months after video surfaced on Facebook of a Florida hawk’s comical attempts to fly away with a slightly larger iguana. In that case, the lizard ended up walking around with the hawk “surfing” along on its back.

Green iguana are native to Central America and are a prohibited species in Florida, where they are considered a nuisance and a health threat. It’s suspected the booming population originated from pets that were either freed by their owners or they escaped.

“Like all nonnative reptile species, green iguanas are not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law and can be humanely killed on private property with landowner permission,” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Farren’s photo has gotten hundreds of reactions on social media, and is being cited as an example of nature fighting back. This includes one woman who invited hawks to enjoy an “iguana buffet” at her home.

“Keep on eating them,” Dorothy Stewart wrote.

“OK, so iguanas have found a natural enemy after all,” Frederica Brown Neal said.

“Thank you Mr. Hawk. I hope they taste good,” Jackie Fillmore posted.

This story was originally published March 22, 2022 7:16 AM.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.




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