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Eagles mooted as solution to drones drug smuggling problem in prisons

Published 01/11/2016

A drone which was used to fly drugs into prisons in Kent and Hertfordshire earlier this year. Ministers are considering using eagles to to take down unmanned aircraft being used by smugglers.
A drone which was used to fly drugs into prisons in Kent and Hertfordshire earlier this year. Ministers are considering using eagles to to take down unmanned aircraft being used by smugglers.

Eagles could be used to take down drones which are smuggling drugs and other contraband into British prisons, the Government has suggested.

The remote controlled flying devices are increasingly being used to get past the high walls and barbed wire fences and sneak banned and illegal goods to convicts.

Dutch police have already begun using the bird of prey to intercept the high-tech devices, and prisons minister Sam Gyimah has suggested Britain could follow its example.

Speaking during Justice Questions in the House of Commons, he said: "The new threat by drones is a game changer, not just for prisons but other parts of Government.

"That is why I'm working with ministers across the Government to engage with drone manufacturers to find a solution to this problem.

"I'm keeping a close eye on what is happening internationally, particularly in Holland where they are using eagles to stop drones, and I'm sure we will find a solution in the UK which will take off."

Figures obtained through a Press Association Freedom of Information (FoI) request earlier this year revealed that there were 33 incidents of drones detected in or around prisons in England and Wales in 2015 - up from two the year before and none in 2013.

But Bill Oddie, who used to present Springwatch, rubbished the idea dismissing it as "pie in the sky".

He told the Press Association: "That sounds like absolute poppycock to me.

"Why on earth would an eagle attack a drone anyway? I can't see why any bird of prey would suddenly think 'Oh, I wonder what that is? I'll go and eat a drone this morning instead of something else.' It doesn't make any sense at all to me."

He said Britain is home to two types of eagle - the golden eagle, which dwells in the mountains, and sea eagles, which feed almost exclusively on fish.

Mr Oddie said: "So unless you have got a nice fish-shaped drone to entice it, you won't have much chance.

"It sounds like absolute nonsense. To coin Ricky Gervais, I think I'd say 'you're having a laugh'.

"You can't train a bird to suddenly regard something as an enemy. Normally if they saw a drone coming they'd get the hell out of the way, I'd have thought."

Press Association

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