By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There are recent online posts from various organizations warning of hawks out in force, threatening the safety of your cats and small dogs (see example).

The same hawk warning appears on Facebook pages and websites of organizations in the area and elsewhere.

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It has a drawing of what looks more like a bald eagle than a hawk. It says hawks are out in force and can swoop down and grab animals twelve pounds or less and that pet owners should keep a close eye on their animals.

The origin of this warning is unclear.

KYW Newsradio checked with park rangers, vet offices, animal control departments and even Pennsylvania and New Jersey divisions of fish and wild life …and none of them know of any such hawk warning.

“The vast majority in Philadelphia is going to be a Red-tailed or Cooper’s hawk,” says Rick Schubert, Director of the Wildlife Clinic at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Roxborough.

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“Cooper’s hawks are bird-eating hawks first of all, they are way too small even to attack the very smallest dog,” he says. “Second of all they are only going after something as big as a pigeon or robin.”

Experts say the largest hawk commonly seen in the area can reach around 2.5 pounds and could only lift half of its body weight.

“If you have chickens you may be worried a little bit,” says Dr. Jason Weckstein — Associate Curator of Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. “But you don’t have to be worried about dogs and cats.”

Dr Jason Weckstein holding a hawk from specimen collection at Academy of Natural Sciences if Drexel University. (Credit: John McDevitt)

Dr. Jason Weckstein holding a hawk from specimen collection at Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. (Credit: John McDevitt)

 

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