In Depth

How police are using eagles to intercept enemy drones

Scotland Yard considering training birds of prey to snatch rogue devices out of the London sky

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The Metropolitan Police has confirmed it is considering using eagles to capture unauthorised remote-controlled drones following a successful trial by Dutch police.

"The eagle has landed in the high-tech world of 21st-century policing," reports The Times.

Why do police need to take down drones?

There are growing concerns that the technology could be used to commit crimes such as sexual harassment, drug trafficking and even terrorist attacks.

A 2014 inquiry led by Sir David Omand, the former head of intelligence agency GCHQ, highlighted the serious risks posed by the devices. "Crowds at sporting events or rallies could be vulnerable if a future terrorist group were to look for means of dispersing chemical or biological agents," the report said.

How would it work?

Dutch police teamed up with Guard From Above, a raptor-training security firm, to teach the birds how to hunt and intercept drones. "It's a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem," Dennis Janus, a spokesman for the Netherlands' national police, said.

In a video released by the force, a white-tailed eagle is released and flies straight toward the drone, grabbing it with her talons and dragging it to the ground. The bird is then rewarded with a piece of raw meat.

Experts say the birds are perfectly suited to the task as they are naturally suspicious of drones, have incredible eyesight and strength and will aggressively defend their territory.

Animal lovers will be pleased to know the operation poses little risk to the eagles. "What I find fascinating is that birds can hit the drone in such a way that they don't get injured by the rotors," Geoff LeBaron, from the environmental group, the National Audubon Society, told The Guardian.

"They seem to be whacking the drone right in the centre so they don't get hit; they have incredible visual acuity and they can probably actually see the rotors."

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