Dutch police testing eagles, hawks as small drone hunter-killers

Dutch police are testing the use of hawks and eagles to take down small drones.

Dutch police are testing the use of hawks and eagles to take down small drones.

Dutch police are going retro in their approach to taking out small drones — by using birds.

The use of trained birds of prey for hunting dates back more than two millennium. But back then, the prey was usually smaller birds.

Now, it’s drones.

A video released Netherlands police shows a small quadcopter drone — a hobbyist model capable of carrying small payloads — rising into the air, only to be quickly snared and brought down by a trained hawk.

Though much of the world’s attention is routinely focused on the large military drones flying combat missions at medium- and high-altitudes, domestic security and law enforcement agencies have their own concerns over smaller recreational models.

In January 2015, for example, a drone too small to be detected by White House radar crashed into a tree on the south lawn in the middle of the night. Secret Service immediately recognized it had a new kind of problem.

Only days earlier, during a Department of Homeland Security conference on the dangers posed by small drones, one official warned that the remotely piloted devices could be mounted with chemical or biological agents.

“Guard from Above,” the company Dutch police are using for its anti-drone efforts, says some drone operators may also mount cameras on the machines to look where they have no business looking.

“Our GFA-trained birds and GFA-trained Birdhandlers are stationed at high risk locations,” the company says on its site. “We also train staff of Police, Defense forces, Prison and correctional officers and security companies to handle GFA-trained birds.”

If the anti-drone hawks and eagles prove successful in The Netherlands, perhaps the U.S. military branches will come up with a new occupational specialty for base security: falconry.

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