The Geneva authorities decided to close the project to create an “Eagle Brigade” designed to combat drones and protect dignitaries. This was reported by the Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche, citing the press service of the Geneva Cantonal Police.
The project was supposed to train eagles to catch drones in the air so they don’t fall to the ground. The project was launched in 2018.
The reason the project was abandoned was because of concerns for the condition of the birds. “Technological and strategic improvements in terms of drone use make this project <…> too uncertain, even dangerous to the physical integrity of the eagles,” the press office told the newspaper.
Humberto Nassisi, head of the group that trained the two birds, told Le Matin Dimanche that they have invested 100,000 francs (just over $100,000) in the project throughout its existence. Instead of the eagle project, according to the newspaper, the authorities want to focus on traditional anti-drone techniques, such as signal jamming, detection systems and others.
A similar project existed in the Netherlands in 2016. Police there also tried to use eagles to catch drones. The initiative was then opposed by animal rights activists, who questioned how safe such work was for the birds themselves. A year later, the project was shut down. Those responsible for it concluded that in training conditions the eagles perform their tasks, but “in real life” the situation could get out of hand.