Be careful where you fly your drones as it might get attacked by a bird! Not just any bird: a bald eagle!
At this very moment, the Dutch National Police force is training bald eagles to take down any drones entering any private space or trespassing areas. Drones can be used by anyone and are used everywhere in the world.
“People buy them as toys and some will use them in the wrong place, the wrong way,” says Mark Wiebes, the police chief of the DNP, according to CBS. Drones can also be used to carry illegal items such as drugs or dangerous weapons anywhere. It is extremely difficult to capture trespassing drones because they are airborne. These eagles will make capturing these drones quick and easy.
Eagle trainers have trained the birds to see drones as prey. Similar to how bald eagles capture prey in the wild, the birds will take down these drones and relocate them to a safe distance from crowds. Each successful capture is rewarded with a piece of meat for the eagles. These birds have been training for over a year and they are reported to have successfully brought down drones 80 percent of the time.
A bald eagle naturally has tough, scaly skin on their feet that protects them from getting bitten by prey they have a grip on. This tough skin makes these birds perfect for attacking drones and not getting harmed by most drone propellers. However, some propellers from larger drones can be harmful to their feet. According to the Dutch National Police, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research is working on a special “claw protector” called a “klauwbeschermer,” which will prevent the eagles from getting hurt when gripping a larger drone.
Before then, the only way to stop a drone was to hijack its command and force it to land, or by using a larger drone with a net. Using these methods could be potentially harmful as you run the risk of the drone losing control and falling on someone or something. Eagles have already been trained to capture small birds that enter airplane areas, so it would make sense they would be efficient in capturing drones.
Currently, these birds are only patrolling in the Netherlands, but more countries could adopt this drone catching method in the future.