When it comes to failed anti-drone solutions, the eagle has landed – at least for the Dutch National Police.
Dronelife readers will no doubt recall the saga of Guard From Above, a Dutch company that trained birds of prey to take out errant drones. In 2016, the Dutch National Police signed an agreement to deploy five-month-old eagles to neutralize unmanned aircraft threats.
This week, police announced they were grounding the anti-drone eagle squadron, citing a lack of cooperation from the avian officers, which (surprise, surprise) aren’t that keen on chasing unappetizing drones.
“A year into the scheme, there is not much demand for the animal cops services and training them has turned out to be costly and not as straightforward as expected,” a police spokesman told Dutch News. “There is doubt about whether the birds will act in the way they have been trained outside of the controlled training environment,” the news report adds.
For about a year after the first demonstrations by Guard from Above, the idea of tasking birds with drone patrol took flight public-safety agencies (and hip-hop icons). But the idea ruffled the feathers of wildlife experts.
“What’s surprising is that people think using live eagles to hunt drones is a good idea. It’s not. It’s not a good idea at all,” said National Geographic writer Nicholas Lund, last year.
Lund, who works with avian-welfare groups DC Audubon Society, Lights Out DC, and Delta Wind Birds, warned that drone blades, especially carbon fiber ones, can seriously hurt a raptor.
Spain’s Royal Family announced plans last year to unleash its own drone-loathing raptors to patrol Zarzuela Palace, the official royal residence. The decree stems from a 2015 incident in which guards spotted several UAVs over the palace.
Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has stated his department may consider the using eagles – especially those found flying near restricted areas.
In March 2016, rapper and noted Taylor Swift-interrupter Kanye West announced he would hire the drone-killer eagles to patrol his house.
“It’s going to be all-out war,” West warned, claiming he would use trained raptors to patrol the skies over his $20 million mansion in LA and hoped to “send every paparazzi lens crashing to the ground in a hundred pieces.”