Hawk attacks latest scourge in violent Rio


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Residents of crime-plagued Rio de Janeiro have a new kind of predator to worry about — hawks.

A pair of hawks has attacked dozens of residents of the upscale Ipanema beach district over the past year, scratching people's heads and faces, doormen working at buildings in the area said Monday.

"People leave the building carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the attacks," said Luis Honorato, a doorman in a building near where the hawks have built a nest.

"At first, they think that someone is throwing something, like a can, onto their heads from the floors above."

Honorato said that one day he saw five attacks in 20 minutes.

"Every time I leave the building I keep waving my hands over my head," said Mario Roxo, a 75-year-old chauffeur who had his head badly scratched by a hawk.

The O Globo newspaper reported that one woman's scalp was gashed and another man mistook an attack for a stray bullet.

Rodgrigo Carvalho, a biologist with Brazil's environmental agency, said the hawks were just trying to defend their young.

"This happens all the time in poor areas and people think it's funny, but when it happens in rich neighborhoods they start calling them attacks," Carvalho said.

Residents have asked the fire department to remove the nest, but officials say they cannot until they get approval from Brazil's environmental protection agency.