Dutch police ground drone-fighting eagles

Dutch police ground drone-fighting eagles

Eagle drone
This file photo taken on Sep 12, 2016 shows a trained young eagle attempting to catch a drone during a demonstration organised by the Dutch police as part of a program to train birds of prey to catch drones flying over sensitive or restricted areas. (Photo: AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

THE HAGUE: Dutch police have clipped the wings of their airborne drone-fighting force of eagles, and fired their winged warriors deeming them too expensive and too unruly to be effective.

After a series of tests in 2015, the police last year announced they were putting into operation a flock of the birds of prey to take down drones believed to be posing a danger to the public, such as near airports.

But now the feathered force has been grounded, with police realising that demand for their services was not very high, and their upkeep was more expensive than first thought.

The birds had been purchased as chicks and trained by a specialist company Guard From Above, which advertises itself as "the first company in the world to use birds of prey to intercept hostile drones".

Eagle drone 2
In this combo image, a young eagle trained to catch drones displays its skills during a demonstration organised by the Dutch police on Sep 12, 2016. (Photo: AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

Videos of a Dutch police presentation of the birds taking to the air to take down drones by grabbing them with their claws and bringing them to the ground went viral last year.

But in practice, it was found the proud eagles did not always do what they had been trained to do, the Dutch broadcaster NOS said.

That raised concerns the birds of prey might not behave properly outside their training zones, the police said, quoted by Dutch media.

The feathered force had two public outings at events in Rotterdam and Brussels, but was never mobilised for real.

Police said they had also been obliged to get rid of their rat "detectives" used to sniff out illegal fireworks, human remains and contraband cigarettes.

It had not been possible to make these animals "operational," police said, adding both the rats and eagles had been rehoused in proper shelters.

Source: AFP/zl