Holland Considers Using Eagles to Take Down Illegal Drones

A golden eagle spreads its wings and opens its claws as if to attack.

Image: Shutterstock

Dutch police are working with a bird training company called Guard From Above to see if eagles can be trained to take down drones that are operating illegally. The project is currently in a testing phase, but if the birds can be effectively trained and utilized, there’s a real chance of this super-cool tactic becoming a common practice in the country.

“For years, the government has been looking for ways to counter the undesirable use of drones,” said Sjoerd Hoogendoorn, founder and CEO of Guard From Above. “Sometimes a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem is more obvious than it seems. This is the case with our specially trained birds of prey. By using these birds’ animal instincts, we can offer an effective solution to a new threat.”

A new video from the Dutch National Police shows an eagle expertly taking a drone out of the air, without getting hurt. The raptors are being trained to identify drones and to knock them right out of the sky, taking them somewhere away from the public. Using eagles to combat illegal drones could very well be more effective than current technology, in which either the drone’s sensors need to be jammed, or it needs to be knocked down with physical force. Not so great, and certainly less majestic.

The eagle program does pose some challenges: the birds could get hurt if they catch a drone the wrong way, and knowing when and where to release them is tricky. But because eagles seem to be able to get the drones quickly and easily and whisk them away, using them in this way might be the easier, safer method in the long run.

Though they could still be injured, eagle handlers suggest that their legs and feet should give the birds enough protection in most cases. Their long, sharp talons should help give the birds enough of a grip that they can stop a plastic drone propeller. It would still be a wise endeavor to develop some other layer of protection for the raptors.

Dutch police will continue testing the eagle program for several months before any official decision on its implementation is reached.

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