UK, Dutch police may use attack eagles to take down dronesIn Alaska, you don’t mess with nature—lest it mess with you.
Emmett Fitch, an Alaska man who runs a small ISP in Unalaska, Alaska—1,000 miles southwest of Anchorage—told Ars that last month he was out helping a drone videographer visiting from Nevada shoot a promotional video in the nearby port of Dutch Harbor.
The team flew a drone out over the harbor, Fitch said, “a mile away,” and the pilot was trying to bring it back to shore.
“They go to circle this vessel, and everything is going fine, and he says, ‘I lost communications with the drone,’” Fitch told Ars. He went on to describe how the drone pilot furiously tried to make the drone return to its home base. (The pilot did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.)
An eagle had gotten hold of the drone. After about 20 minutes, the pilot began going back through the short amount of footage stored on his phone.
“You could clearly see it getting taken out of the air,” Fitch said. “We slowed the footage down, and all you could see was the eagle talons wrapping around it. [The eagle] must have pulled one of the power cords because it killed the drone immediately. Then we felt like we were a man down.”
Fitch speculated that the eagle—eagles are common in the area—may have mistaken the drone for prey of some kind.
“A few people went looking for it, but nothing turned up,” he added. “Maybe the eagle carried it away.”
The story was first reported by a local newspaper called Dutch Harbor Fisherman. According to the paper, Katie Sweeney of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has flown drones over Attu and Agattu, at the far western end of the Aleutian Islands, with no issue. However, she operates a bulky $25,000 hexacopter, which is unlikely to be snatched by an eagle.
Sweeney did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
Last year, British and Dutch authorities announced that they were training eagles to attack enemy drones.