back to article Drone-busting eagles to darken Blighty's skies?

The Metropolitan Police have confirmed they're looking into deploying drone-busting eagles, a few days after a Scottish MP called for cops north of the border to investigate the possibility of using feathered interceptors to deal with growing flocks of wild UAVs. According to the Times, Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It's official.

    The Rozzers are giving all of us the bird.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: It's official.

      Stop in the name of the claw!

      1. VinceH

        Re: It's official.

        They'll have you before the beak for that pun!

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: It's official.

          I'll only get a raptor across the knuckles.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There is a mixture of technology, eco-sustainability and some nostalgic references to medieval falconry skills.

    What's not to like? Maybe Barclays can add this to Digital Eagle campaigns.

    Pesky drones flying over your lovely garden or top secret listening post?

    Send in the Eagles!!!

    CRawwwwww ........ flap flap flap

    I think they prefer small rodents, however.....

  3. fLaMePrOoF

    Security Theatre

    The type of drone in question, a Syma X5 is circa 200-300 grams, has relatively weak brushed motors, doesn't have the power to lift a load of more than 50-100 grams, a maximum of 50-100 meter range from the transmitter and requires line of sight, little or no use for any criminal enterprise.

    Drones that are of use to criminals are larger (1 Kg+) with powerful brushless motors and the ability to carry loads such as drugs or mobile phones as well as providing decent range for the transmitter and FPV camera. No way an eagle could grab one of those out of the air; nothing could mitigate the risk of injury from the motors and the drone it's self would simply be too heavy for the bird...

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Security Theatre

      Quite so @fLaMePrOoF

      The only answer is pterodactyls, and lots of them.

    2. John Sturdy
      Big Brother

      Re: Security Theatre

      I suspect the cops' real interest is in removing sousveillance drones at protests. Only Big Brother will be allowed to film protests.

    3. Bc1609

      Re: Security Theatre

      Depends on the eagle. A big, strong golden eagle can carry almost 2kg, which, granted, doesn't cover all drones but does do quite a few of them. Plus the eagle doesn't necessarily have to carry it up and away, just bring it down. Which, given that a big eagle can weigh 10kg+, would simply involve closing its wings.

      Re. injury to the eagle, it's worth noting that in Kazakhstan they use eagles to hunt wolves. If you're really worried about their talons getting hurt (remember that a bird of prey's talons are pretty damn tough), there's a simple solution: give them leg/talon guards.

      Of course, this is all a bit speculative, given that the Dutch plod on whom all this is based are still doing trials.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Security Theatre

        Exactly. Eagles are huge birds. I can also see vultures doing the job. And they could always add lasers.

        1. VinceH

          Re: Security Theatre

          "I can also see vultures doing the job."

          Okay, with you so far.

          "And they could always add lasers."

          You seem to be suggesting lasers without the involvement of sharks. You, Sir, are completely bonkers!

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: Security Theatre

            @VinceH: Okay then - flying sharks with lasers it is.

            1. VinceH

              Re: Security Theatre

              @ allthecoolshortnamesweretaken: I'm glad you've seen sense :)

            2. BebopWeBop

              Re: Security Theatre

              @VinceH: Okay then - flying sharks with lasers it is.

              Well they've got the flying bit sorted - - now for the lasers.

            3. Tom 13

              Re: flying sharks with lasers it is.

              I heard flying sharks only live in tornadoes. Are you sure that's safe?

          2. Stoneshop
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Security Theatre

            <Sam the Eagle>I am appalled, truly appalled by this so-called Security Theater. It is not secure, and it is certainly not Theater. Neither is the Muppet Show, if I may be so bold to say so. Anyway, this abhorrent invasion of the skies by mechanical playthings, endangering us, must stop. And calling on us, the eagles, or our esteemed colleagues, the vultures, to rid the skies of this litter, is demeaning. Demeaning, I say. Let people clean up after themselves as they should and let them involve in wholesome activities such as baking apple pie.</Sam the Eagle>

            (Swedish Chef enters and starts flying a drone which neatly cuts apples out of an apple tree, peeling and slicing them in the process. Sam covers his eyes)

    4. Haku

      Re: Security Theatre

      The Dutch drone was the same 230 size as a Syma X5C but actually a Spyrit Max FPV T2M which reportedly weighs 580g with the camera and prop guards, which they didn't have on for the tests.

      A Cheerson CX-20, 360 size, brushless motors, approx 1kg weight, has killed an eagle that attacked it -

      1. Captain Scarlet

        Re: Security Theatre

        Why don't we just shoot them with one of those bean bag guns?

    5. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Security Theatre

      Another falconry detail is that you fly the birds by weight. If they're too heavy they're not interested, if they're too light they're likely to take off in search of real prey.

      I'd guess that if I was nefarious enough to be flying something of interest to the cops then I'd probably not be bothered about hurting the bird. Trained raptors are expensive -- they take ages to breed and train -- so sacrificing a cheap quadcopter to take out a bird is very cost effective. For the rest of us there's the same deterrent as other birds use -- the raptor only has the element of surprise, once that's taken care of the bird is at a serious disadvantage, its quite slow and cumbersome. (If you don't believe me, watch a bunch of smaller birds, especially crows, mob a raptor -- they're nasty.) So I'd guess the deal is wait for the bird to come to you, then lift slighly, half a meter should do, and then get on its six. The bird will have a very hard time -- and if there's more than one of you then the chances are the bird will go away and not bother you again.

      So, yes, its theater and if there's budget going for security then show me the trough (my snout awaits) but, seriously, those cops need to get some common sense.

    6. Tom 13

      Re: Security Theatre

      Can we get some eagles with Frickin' laser beams?

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    but, but, but

    How will the eagles tell the difference between an allowed/licensed/approved drone from little Joey's birthday present?

    WTF doesn't seem to cover the issue...

    1. Bc1609

      Re: but, but, but

      But, but, but, if the drone is flying over an airport or a prison or some other restricted space, no-one really cares about little Joey. It doesn't matter whose it is; it shouldn't be flying there.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: but, but, but

        You forget the drones that the Authorities use, with the proliferation of drones, tech getting better, Johnny Law will have his flying force soon enough. The hottest job going is probably certified drone operator trainer.

        Besides anything this stupid must be a distraction, a misdirection or some such sleight of hand. I live in NL, and not far from a decommissioned air base, it's now used for you guessed it, drone training area.

  5. Tromos

    The first eagle that loses out to the spinning blades and becomes shredded tweet will soon put paid to this idea.

  6. Efros

    We're missing an opportunity here

    Miniature strike aircraft, manned by Action Man. I'm sure James May could be recruited, I hear he's not doing much at the moment.

  7. hplasm

    Glad to see that -

    all other crime has been solved, so now plod has to manufacture some.

    Oh- that's not new, is it?

  8. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Legal Eagles

    That is all

  9. TRT Silver badge
  10. Stevie


    Of course, these "Eagle Squadrons" are only legal on the Moon.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could they not mount jammers on the eagles then when they get close it would drop out of the sky? (albeit this would only work for one's not flown on auto by GPS)

  12. A K Stiles

    How about Deploying Brian Blessed?

    "...Hawkmen, DIIIIVE!!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about Deploying Brian Blessed?

      'Drones? DROOONES?' etc

  13. Pseudonymous Diehard

    Bird eh?

    Well if I were strategising to bring down drones over airports, I'd use the very turkey cannon they apparently use for testing aircraft jet engines.

    The jets are built to withstand the turkey, but can a drone withstand a turkey? Goggles on chaps, we need to get this to the boys in the lab.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Bird eh?

      I bet a frozen turkey can dring down a drone.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: Bird eh?

        As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly...."

  14. Alister

    What a brilliant idea! So in the crowded sky over an airport, they want to introduce one of the largest Birds-Of-Prey.

    I can see at least 2 problems:

    1/ It's a big wild bird - what happens if it gets in the way of an airliner?

    2/ It's a big Bird-Of-Prey. What are the local bird populations going to do? Panic, and fly away in great flocks, probably into the path of an aircraft.

    1. VinceH

      There was an old lady who swallowed a fly...

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Scaring the birds

      (Alister) If a raptor gets too close to a flock of birds then it will get mobbed. I've only seen them doing it from trees, though, so you might not see this around airports. Local raptors include red-tailed hawks, black shouldered kites and a great horned owl -- the last one is a big thing, about 1.5 meters wingspan, easily big enough to snatch a Yorkie. Any of these birds are lethal to anything that they can grab but they are not that maneuverable so they cannot cope with being pestered by two or more smaller birds (crows will go after them.....they're nasty).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Put a bounty on all drones

    Then the Gamekeepers all over the country can shoot them down rather than killing Raptors illegally.

    A pesky brat three doors away got a drone for Crimble. He enjoys dropping stones onto greenhouses. Mine is the nearest. His parents think the sun shines out of you know where and refuse to believe that little darling would do anything wrong.

    So far it has evaded the shots from my catapult. A 'BB' gun will be next if he keeps on cracking the panes in my greenhouse.

    1. My-Handle

      Re: Put a bounty on all drones

      Sounds like a hosepipe or a jet washer might be your friend here, depending on the altitude of brat's little toy. Not sure how much damage a BB gun will do to something capable of lifting damaging stones. Alternatively, grabbing a video of the entire incident and taking it around to brat's parents along with a few veiled threats re criminal damage charges might be in order.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Put a bounty on all drones

        Sounds like a hosepipe or a jet washer might be your friend here, depending on the altitude of brat's little toy.

        Why go for altitude when there's a better target at a lower level?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Put a bounty on all drones

      TBH it sounds like you simply made this up.

      So he drops stones, really how does he do that, he must be a very stable flyer to keep a stone from rolling off a quad, as they don't have too many large flat surfaces.

      Or has he rigged a drop system with a servo.

      Or where you bored?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Put a bounty on all drones

        I'm tempted to downvote because you missed. But I'm not that cruel.

        Though I did upvote the commenter saying it is a tall story, I can imagine at least one way to get a normal quad to drop a stone. Balance it on top, and do an automatic flip above something.

        Here is hoping you get it sorted. I suggest a video camera to record the incident. The rest I'll not suggest.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Put a bounty on all drones

          Having difficulty thinking of anything flat enough let a stone sit on top never mind flying over a neighbours garden as any change in attitude through banking or forward/backward movement would cause the payload to fall off.

          Suppose he could have an eggcup or something glued on top, but frankly the story smells of wee and should be treated as such.

          Except for the people daft enough to believe it because it's a drone story

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Put a bounty on all drones

      A 'BB' gun will be next if he keeps on cracking the panes in my greenhouse.

      At least in the UK, I would suggest a very legal (if you are of the age) .22 air gun - decent mechanical or gas operated one. I can assure you that they will take down a low cost drone at 35 metres...

  16. Dave Robinson

    Dive bombing not necessary

    How about training the eagle to drop something on the drone? Or even just fly over it with a (detachable) bit of wire dangling from its talons?

    Or even better, why not train the eagle to attack anyone in the vicinity holding a remote control?

  17. Haku

    Still a really dumb idea.

    Especially as the Dutch demonstration was a 230 sized TOY drone weighing less than 600g when the larger camera carrying size (360, 450 and up) weigh over 1kg and use powerful brushless motors, with the option of using carbon fibre blades.

    You wouldn't want to get near 9 inch carbon fibre blades doing 7000 rpm, so why would you potentially send an animal near one?.

    1. Rob Crawford

      Re: Still a really dumb idea.

      I for one would be irritated at having to clean eagle blood off my 450 considering the number of tree collisions where the carbon fibre blades simply chopped through surprisingly thick sticks.

      Considering sticking something into the path of a quad the ESC simply piles more power into the motor to keep it spinning at the right speed

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just saying

    Number of people killed in the UK by toy drones crashing: 0.

    Number of people killed by Plod aircraft falling from the skies:

    Glasgow 2013 - 10

    Northants 1998 - 1

    Glasgow 1990 - 1

    Hampshire 1985 - 2

    There are also a number of non fatal crashes where houses were damaged or where Plod aircraft crash landed causing injury but no deaths.

    Remind me, what's the argument being used about safety?

  19. Andy Taylor

    Who knew

    that if you play Hotel California at them loud enough, drones just fall out of the sky?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Who knew

      Journey of the Sorcerer.

  20. Blofeld's Cat


    [Drone flutters into view]

    Inspector: "Right Constable Hodgesaargh release the eagles."

    [Screeching, flurry of talons, jab of beaks. Screams, blood etc. - Drone continues unmolested]

    With apologies to Pterry.

  21. herman Silver badge

    Funny that if you call it what it is: "Police want to use endangered birds to destroy children's toys", then it doesn't sound like such a great idea any more.

  22. x 7

    "mull an eagle squadron"

    first go to Mull and catch can see them flying but you'll never get close enough

  23. x 7

    so are we going to fit the eagles with rotor and razorblade resistant leg armour?

  24. x 7

    wrong bird. You don't need eagles.

    What you DO need are kamikazi Peregrine falcons, each carrying 200g of explosive. When the bird stoops onto the drone - BANG!!!

    Of course you'd need to set up a breeding program as the birds would be very much single-use "fire and forget" weapons

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Just dust of Skinner's pidgeons-steering-missiles concept then. The first tests were quite promising at the time.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        And Kites would just be confusing.

        But would this work at night, or would you have an owl squadron for that?

    2. Alister

      wrong bird. You don't need eagles.

      No, no, you need Penguins, definitely Penguins.

      What? What do you mean they can't fly? They're a bird, aren't they?

  25. Mike 16

    Missing a vital detail

    What spices go into mulling an eagle squadron, and how much wine?

  26. Turbo Beholder
    IT Angle

    Amusing, but only good for delivering a new sort of bird dropping all over those who won't do anything about it. As usual.

    The butt of this joke are their birds.

    Because electric shock is better at developing reflexes than food. How much a flash tube pumping circuit in cheap soap-box cameras does weigh?..

  27. John Tserkezis

    It's like the cops are so insanely bored, they couldn't think of a single thing to keep themselves occupied.

  28. David Roberts

    Just distraction

    They can't even afford to send someone round to investigate a burglary.

    How many airports and prisons (not even considering any other targets) are there in the UK?

    How many trained birds would it take to mount an effective force to cover even half of these, and how long would it take to breed and train them?

    This is yet another bit of unachievable fluff which can be anounced as a solution which will be implemented in 2020--{slip}->2025.

    Far more practical to employ drone enthusiasts to develop drone killer drones which earn a bounty for downing any unauthorised drones in restricted areas. Positive reinforcement of the development cycle, a TV series just waiting to be made, and use the geeks as live bait for bad guys who's only remaining option is to go after the killer drone operators. Bonus depends on keeping the protected area clear and not endangering planes with your own drone.

  29. BebopWeBop

    Last week, Dunfermline and West MP Douglas Chapman, who sits on the Commons Defence Select Committee, suggested Police Scotland similarly mull an eagle squadron to clear the skies of drones that he described as "a real risk to people", "a danger to those on the ground" and even "a risk to national security" in the wrong hands

    I suppose it provides much needed work for Scottish birds of prey. But ha April come round so soon, or are Scottish rozzers a little short of press releases for a Monday morning?

    1. x 7

      " suggested Police Scotland similarly mull an eagle squadron to clear the skies of drones"

      none of you have got the hidden joke.....the island of Mull is where most of the Scottish Sea Eagles are concentrated. The idiot MP was just trying to have a laugh at the Plod's expense

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