March 24 (UPI) -- Trappers in a Florida city set out trap cages that managed to snare a "monster" 4-foot Nile monitor lizard that had been hunting protected burrowing owls.
Neighbors said they feared for the safety of their pets after spotting the massive lizard wandering near their Cape Coral homes, so trappers were summoned to capture the invasive predator.
"That's really my fear," Julie Weiss, whose home is in front of the monitor's nest, told WBBH-TV. "I've never felt threatened by one, like one was going to attack me or anything like that, but it's the fear and safety of the animals."
The lizard was caught in a cage trap Tuesday and hauled away by authorities.
Residents said they had feared not only for their pets, but for the protected burrowing owls that live in the area and make up one of the lizards' preferred food sources.
"They're just evil. I mean they're one step from a Komodo Dragon for God sake," neighbor Clark Sweeney said. "They are an invasive predator that has a toxic bite and they kill endangered owls."
The city's Environmental Resources Division, which offers trapping services for the Nile monitors, said the lizards were introduced to the area sometime before the 1990s, likely as a result of the pet trade. There are believed to be more than 1,000 of the lizards living in the Cape Coral area.