Dutch police use eagles to hunt illegal drones

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Dutch police are using eagles to hunt drones. Photo by Christopher Booker

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CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Police in the Netherlands are taking a unique approach toward unwanted, and potentially unsafe, drones. They’re the first in the world to use birds to hunt and catch drones that are being used illegally.

These eagles are trained to see the drones as prey. Using their hunting instinct, they intercept the device mid-air and carry it to a safe landing place. They’re rewarded with a piece of meat after each successful capture. The Dutch police began testing the use of the birds last year, and this week announced the results from the trial period. The eagles successfully brought down the drones 80 percent of the time.

Now, they will begin deploying eagles to capture drones that pose a potential danger, including when they fly in restricted air space, too close to airports, or during visits from dignitaries. The Dutch police say that none of the birds were harmed during the testing, but they continue to monitor any impact on the talons of the eagles. And they are commissioning special claw protectors that will help further prevent injuries to the eagles when they intercept larger drones.

MARK WIEBES: Up until now, our only option has been to try to find a drone operator, a pilot. But it can be very hard to find that person. It can take a long time. And that’s why you want to have the ability to capture the device yourself.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Eventually, about 100 officers across the country will be trained to use the birds. For now, these drone hunters are being provided and trained by a private company. But the Dutch police are committed to the plan, and have even begun to raise their own eagle chicks. They expect to have their own flying squad trained and hunting drones by next summer.

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