First, it came for the crypto shills and startups and then, the Silicon Valley legacy brands. Now, the dreaded 2022 tech layoffs are sinking their talons into birds. No, not that bird. We’re talking about drone-killing eagles.
After a five year trial, Geneva police announced this week they would end their so-called, anti-drone “eagle brigade,” due to uncertain effectiveness and concerns for the animals’ safety. Now, the program’s two raptors, reportedly named Altaïr and Draco, will have to start perusing LinkedIn. Or, you know, the bird equivalent.
“The technological and strategic improvements in terms of the use of drones make this project of using raptors too uncertain, even dangerous for the physical integrity of the eagles,” Geneva Cantonal Police said according to Bloomberg.
The Geneva police began training the drone hating eagles back in 2017 as a way to snatch rogue drones out of the sky without having them fall to the ground and potentially harm bystanders. Geneva regularly hosts dignitaries and political leaders from around the world, making it a particularly concerning target for malicious drones—and a unique opportunity for their brown feathered adversaries.
Just because the program ended though doesn’t mean eagles are incapable of taking out those flying hunks of plastic and metal. On the contrary, the video below, uploaded by waffle training organization Guard From Above, shows an eagle plucking an unassuming bot out of the sky with seemingly relative ease.
In France, the Royal Air Force reportedly raised four eagles, named after characters from The Three Musketeers, tasked with the sole purpose of tackling small drones mid air. Those birds, Vice notes, were reportedly hatched atop the wreckage of dead drones which instilled them with an instinct to seek out and destroy drones as a food source. The U.S. Air Force, meanwhile, reportedly conducted its own study on raptors back in 2017 to investigate the ways they could potentially be used to defend against drones that could threaten soldiers or police.
Switzerland’s newly out of luck eagles arguably have it even worse than many other of their Patagonia wearing cousins in Silicon Valley. While many laid off tech employees can simply fall upward into similar positions at a rival company or potentially hop on to a growing startup, anti-drone eagles are at risk of professional extinction.
The Netherlands, which had its own search and destroy eagles, reportedly ended its program in 2018 due partly to costs and concerns raised from animal rights groups. Though prominent anti-drone eagle trainers like Guard From Above say the eagles aren’t at risk of injury when wrecking their mechanical prey, the practice nonetheless raised concerns from animal rights groups and falconer Robert Muster, who told the NL Times in 2016 he worried professional drones’ fast propellers, “will make mincemeat out of an eagle.”
The potential danger isn’t limited to eagles either.
“If an eagle can not catch his prey, he may become so frustrated that he picks up something else,” Muster said. “Eagle talons are so strong that it can easily pierce a child’s head.”
On second thought, maybe it’s about time those winged beasts consider a career change.