Trained Police Eagles Attack Drones On Command

Inevitable, really
Eagle Catches Drone
Screenshot by author, from YouTube

Drones are relative newcomers to the sky, dating back only about a hundred years. As such, they’re often clumsy, inadept flyers, modern hover platforms for toy cameras bouncing in the air. That doesn’t mean they haven’t already acquired some natural predators. Animals from bears to rams hate drones, but it’s the territorial birds that do the most with their sky hate. Avian raptors of all sorts have instinctively attacked drones, often captured on the drones’ own cameras. Now, as IEEE Spectrum reports, Dutch police are specifically training eagles to attack the small unmanned flying machines as an anti-drone tool.

In the video, the eagles appear to snag the quadcopter on its body between the rotors, which minimizes risk to the bird. That’s deeply important if birds are to be used for anti-drone work. In 2014, I spoke to several falconers about the mere possibility of training birds to attack drones, and while they all agreed it could be done, they were deeply skeptical that it could be done in a way that respected the safety of the bird.

Joey Sebolt, president and director of the Georgia Falconry Association, told Popular Science then: “The practical reason for why anyone would want to do that is beyond me. There have been encounters with wild birds with those kinds of devices that are dangerous to the wild animal and the equipment. You certainly wouldn’t want to train a bird to do that.”

At least the eagles seem happy and unharmed in the Dutch test. For people who don’t have access to eagles, net guns are an equally effective anti-drone alternative.