Dutch police ground drone-fighting eagles

After a series of tests, Dutch police had put into operation a flock of eagles to take down drones believed to be posing a danger to the public. PHOTO: REUTERS

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch police have clipped the wings of their drone-fighting force of eagles and fired the winged warriors, deeming them too expensive and too unruly to be effective.

After a series of tests in 2015, the police last year announced they were putting into operation a flock of the birds of prey to take down drones believed to be posing a danger to the public, such as near airports.

But now the feathered force has been grounded, with police realising that demand for their services was not very high, and their upkeep was more expensive than first thought.

The birds had been purchased as chicks and trained by a specialist company Guard From Above, which advertises itself as "the first company in the world to use birds of prey to intercept hostile drones".

Videos of a Dutch police presentation of the birds taking to the air to take down drones by grabbing them with their claws and bringing them to the ground went viral last year.

But in practice, it was found the proud eagles did not always do what they had been trained to do, the Dutch broadcaster NOS said.

That raised concerns the birds of prey might not behave properly outside their training zones, the police said, quoted by Dutch media.

The feathered force had two public outings at events in Rotterdam and Brussels, but was never mobilised for real.

Police said they had also been obliged to get rid of their rat "detectives" used to sniff out illegal fireworks, human remains and contraband cigarettes.

It had not been possible to make these animals "operational", police said, adding both the rats and eagles had been rehoused in proper shelters.

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