Police should train birds to attack drones, says SNP MP

Could birds of prey such as golden eagles be trained to take down drones? One SNP MP has suggested that Police Scotland follow a similar tactic used by Dutch police. Picture: AP

Could birds of prey such as golden eagles be trained to take down drones? One SNP MP has suggested that Police Scotland follow a similar tactic used by Dutch police. Picture: AP

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POLICE should train birds of prey to attack drones, according to an SNP MP.

Drones were once the reserve of the military or specialist hobbyists as a result of their hefty price tag.

Drones have grown in popularity. Picture: Getty Images

Drones have grown in popularity. Picture: Getty Images

But a new wave of models costing as little as £20 has put the toys in the hands of inexpert pilots with little or no understanding of laws or safety guidelines.

Last week police in the Netherlands revealed they have trained eagles to attack and bring to the ground wayward drones being flown illegally and dangerously.

And now an SNP MP has called for the practice to be considered by law enforcement in a bid to tackle similar problems in Scotland.

Dunfermline and West MP Douglas Chapman has said that such innovative tactics are needed to intercept drones - which are becoming an ever-greater safety concern.

Chapman, who sits on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, said: “Training eagles to bring drones down safely is something Police Scotland should look at.

“Their Dutch counterparts seem to be doing interesting work in this area, and I think it is something the force should consider.”

READ MORE: Police to clamp down on illegal use of drones

Speaking about the rising level of concern over drone use, Chapman added: “As the number of drones rise, so will the number of incidents.

“The potential of one of them going out of control poses a real risk to people.

“Drones can be used for criminal purposes as well as present a danger to those on the ground, such as at a large public gathering.

“It is possible that in the wrong hands they can be easily used to present a risk to national security.”

Dutch police recently posted footage of their project online - showing a raptor attacking an airborne drone.

Mark Wiebe - innovation manager at the Dutch Police’s National Unit - explained: “The bird sees the drone as prey and takes it to a safe area, a place where he is not threatened by other birds or humans.

“We had one situation recently in Holland where an air ambulance could not land safely because someone nearby was flying a drone.”

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) guidelines dictate that drones must be flown within sight of the individual controlling them, at least 50m away from people, vehicles or buildings.

They must also be flown at least 150m away from congested areas.

Those who break the CAA rules can face serious criminal charges and may even be imprisoned.

But social media and video websites are overflowing with clips of amateur drone pilots breaking the strict guidelines.

Last year a drone collided with the Wallace Monument in Stirling, causing damage to the iconic historical site.

And counter-terrorism experts have also claimed that passenger planes could be put at risk by drones being flown nearby airports.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “The use of drones is regulated by the CAA, there are strict rules in place for using them.

“It is essential they are used responsibly so as not to cause alarm or injury to other members of the public.”

Chapman’s comments have come after a Christmas season where drones were best-selling presents for children and adults alike.

It is now expected that record numbers of drones could take to the skies of the nation as a new wave of pilots test their skill.

But his comments also come hot on the heels of a string of drone-related accidents.

In November an 18 month toddler lost an eye after it was sliced in half by a drone being flown by a family friend.

And just a few days before Christmas a champion skier had a lucky escape after a large drone filming his slalom run fell out of the sky, crashing into the slope just inches behind him.

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