Eagles seem to be the most effective way to intercept drones in cities.
The drones being targeted are small, weighing less than 2kg, and are readily available on the commercial market. Nevertheless, their use in sensitive zones – including during demonstrations and around airports – has led to accidents that prompted France and other countries to introduce restrictions on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
The French army is using birds of prey to take down drones to protect its air bases as well as to secure public airspace in case a drone poses a threat.
Eagles were first used by the Dutch police force to intercept drones used by criminals and terrorists. Inspired by this success, the French military began training eagles for military programmes.
The pilot programme started last spring at Mont de Marsan air base in southwestern France with a team of four raptors – three females and one male. They are taught from a very young age until they become fully-trained at around 8 months, when they reach full maturity. The eagles used in France are bred using artificial insemination since eagles are a protected species and harvesting wild eggs is strictly forbidden.
Part of the training involves familiarising the eagles with the sight of drones. Even before they hatch, the eagles are surrounded by drones so they become part of their natural environment. Eventually they are taught to associate drones with being fed.
“A drone means food for these birds,” Gerald Machoukow, the military base’s falconer, told FRANCE 24’s Fanny Allard. “Now they automatically go after them.” France24
Video: Dutch police use eagles to hunt illegal drones (last year)
Hope all is well for the eagle. Freedom is a perfect name for the eagle.
I called the sheriffs office, city hall, fire department, U of M Raptor center , DNR Conservation Officer and all the stories were the same. They said it had been there for 2 1/2 days and that there was nothing they could do and that the eagle had died and the movement we saw was only the wind blowing it.
I told them they were wrong and it was very much alive and somebody needed to help it immediately! They all said sorry but there was nothing they could do. Facebook
Galvin’s wife, Jackie, wrote on Facebook Friday that her husband was nervous about shooting near the eagle but the couple felt they had no choice after officials said the eagle had been stuck for days and there was “nothing they could do.”
“I told Jason he had to shoot it free! He was nervous as he didn’t want to get in trouble for shooting at an eagle but I know with his sharp shooter skills that if anyone would save this eagle it was him!,” Jackie wrote in the post.
She described the rescue effort taking nearly 90 minutes with a borrowed gun, in difficult conditions. “A neighbor at the cabin drove by and borrowed Jason his .22 as it had a better scope than Jason’s,” she wrote. “It was windy and he only had about 4″ of rope to shoot without hitting the eagle.”
When the bald eagle was finally freed, the couple wrapped it in a blanket, the post said. The eagle was never hit by one of Galvin’s bullets and is now recovering at the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center.
The couple named the eagle “Freedom” and hope to be able to release him near they’re home once he is back to good health, Jackie said. “What an amazing hero, my Army Veteran saving an eagle on 4th of July Weekend!” she wrote. ABCNews