A drone-stopping solution some say is for the birds will officially take flight over the Netherlands in what may be the first police use of a living creature as an anti-UAV measure.
In February, DRONELIFE reported that Dutch company, Guard From Above had launched a plan to deploy eagles and other raptors to identify and take down drones.
Now, the nation’s federal police force says it will use the birds in what is being called the world’s first avian anti-drone squad.
“It’s a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem,” police spokesman Dennis Janus said in an interview with AFP on Monday. Janus added that the eagles will be unleashed in cases where drones are being a threat to public safety, especially with rogue UAV flights over airports.
Guard From Above will train around 100 officers to join forces with the five-month old raptors and officials say the anti-drone squad will flap its collective wings next summer.
“For years, the government has been looking for ways to counter the undesirable use of drones,” Guard From Above CEO Sjoerd Hoogendoor said in a previous DRONELIFE report. “By using these birds’ animal instincts, we can offer an effective solution to a new threat.”
However, animal-welfare experts think the initiative may be bird-brained.
“What’s surprising is that people think using live eagles to hunt drones is a good idea. It’s not. It’s not a good idea at all,” said National Geographic writer Nicholas Lund. Lund, who works with avian-welfare groups DC Audubon Society, Lights Out DC, and Delta Wind Birds, warned that drone blades, especially carbon fiber ones, can seriously hurt a raptor.
“If an eagle were to misjudge its attack, or if the drone operator were to take evasive or defense maneuvers, a bird could be struck by the blades and seriously injured or killed,” he said.
The Netherlands is not the only nation to consider a UAV-swiping eagle patrol. In February, Scotland Yard stated it may consider the use of birds of prey to take out errant drones – especially those found flying near restricted areas.
In April, Spain’s Royal Family discussed using home-grown eagles to patrol Zarzuela Palace, the official royal residence. Earlier this year, recording artist Kanye West – a nation onto himself — announced plans to hire birds to patrol his house and dive bomb paparazzi-piloted drones.