The Metropolitan Police is considering the utilisation of eagles to intercept drones, amid concerns that the flying devices are being increasingly used in criminal activity.
The force’s commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has confirmed that they will consider the use of the crime-fighting tactic, which is already being deployed in Holland.
Dutch police have teamed up with security company Guard From Above, in order to train birds of prey to identify drones as prey and to consequently pluck them out of the sky.
In the UK, drones – remote controlled pilot-less aircrafts – are currently used to capture footage on difficult terrain, including cliffs. However police hold growing concerns over criminals using the drones for their gain.
In November, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed that a drone had been used to smuggle mobile phones, SIM cards and drugs in to the grounds of HMP Manchester. Guards later recovered the items. In addition, the MoJ reported nine attempts to use drones to infiltrate prisons in England and Wales in the first five months of 2015.
A think tank has also warned that terrorist groups could use drones. The UK Air Proximity Board said in January that drones had been involved in four serious near misses at UK airports.
Despite Holland proving that such use of eagles is possible, the director of the International Centre of Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire, Jemima Parry-Jones, described the idea as a “gimmick”.
She remarked “Eagles are big, powerful birds; they should not be flown in built-up areas. And secondly in terms of the safety of the bird, you’re asking it to grab and hold a drone, which often have four rotating blades keeping it in the air”.
But a spokesman for the RSPCA revealed that the pressing dangers in which the eagle would face are relatively uncertain.
They stated, “In principle, we would not have an issue with police forces training eagles in an attempt to tackle drones, although we would have concerns over the welfare of the birds. At the moment, however, there is not enough information available for us to be able to make an informed comment”.