Eagles are large and powerful natural predators. These beautiful birds have hooked beaks used for ripping flesh and have the ability to spot prey from far off distances. If you’ve ever watched an eagle in action, it’s quite amazing. These birds have the agility to fiercely swoop down and nab prey with their talons before quickly flying off. They really are outstanding creatures.
Dutch police have come up with a clever idea to take down drones with the help of these birds of prey. Drones can fly easily into top-secret locations or can fly into illegal airspace, and so Dutch police have teamed up with Guard From Above, to train eagles to hunt and destroy these illegal drones. According to the Dutch National Police, there has been an overwhelming number of illegal drones flying in the air, sometimes even flying too close to airplanes. In a Dutch video, you can see a trained eagle taking down one of these drones quickly and swiftly as if it were its prey. So far, it looks like the Dutch police are on to something.
Eagles are being used as “anti-drone weapon systems.” As young birds, they’re taught and trained to identify and capture drones because trainers place their food on top of these machines. This technique teaches the bird to associate drones with food, a behavior that has worked. According to the BBC, these birds are taught to treat drones as if they’re animals they would most likely hunt. After the eagle captures the drone, it’s trained to find a “safe area” away from people to land and take a few bites. After, their handlers reward the birds with real food. Using eagles to destroy drones in the air has also been a plus because they can bring drones to the ground without harming anyone. “The birds are taught to treat the drones as if they were a small animal they would hunt to eat,” a statement from the Dutch police read.
So far, the Dutch police have trained eagles as a test. Later on, they will decide whether using the eagles is the best way to take down illegal drones. Guard From Above, the organization working with the Dutch police, has assured people that dangers to the birds, such as the impact this can have on the birds’ claws, would be closely monitored and researched. The raptor-training program stated: “In nature, birds of prey often overpower large and dangerous prey. Their talons have scales, which protect them, naturally, from their victims’ bites. Of course, we are continuously investigating any extra possible protective measures we can take to protect our birds.”
This method to take down illegal drones has intrigued other nations as well. According to News Atlas, the French military has been training baby eagles as drone hunters. The military has demonstrated techniques showing eagles swooping in, snatching the drones, and taking them down to the ground. If the bird is successful, it gets chunks of meat. Eagles are capable of spotting a target 1.2 miles away, flying at a quick 50 mph. It also seems like the French military already knows how to protect the eagles’ claws. The military is designing mittens made from leather and Kevlar, used to guard against explosives, to protect the birds’ claws. The military is planning on have the birds perched on the Pyrenees Mountains to look for any threats of incoming drones.
The videos and images of these magnificent birds capturing drones are outstanding. Eagles are inclined to hunt prey, have brilliant eyesight, and can easily grab prey with their talons. Some may be concerned the drones might injure the eagles, but these birds are tough and have enough scales on their feet to capture the machines. The decision to use eagles is still up in the air, but it’s still a very well-thought out plan to keep airspace safe.