A drone belonging to the US state of Michigan’s Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) department was unexpectedly lost over Lake Michigan on Friday – after being attacked by a bald eagle.
According to a statement released by the agency, EGLE environmental quality analyst and drone pilot Hunter King was about seven minutes into mapping shoreline erosion in the area when the incident took place.
The Phantom 4 Pro Advanced drone, worth some US$950, was not recovered despite searches conducted with the craft’s telemetric data. The aircraft was found to have lost one of its propellors while spiralling from the skies, and had subsequently sunk to the bottom of the lake.
“The attack could have been a territorial squabble with the electronic foe, or just a hungry eagle,” reads the light-hearted report released to EGLE’s website. “Or maybe it did not like its name being misspelled.”
The agency’s drone division is considering steps to reduce the possibility of a repeat attack, including the possibility of using “skins” or other designs on the aircraft to make them look less like seagulls.
While bird attacks on drones remain uncommon, they have been reported in North America (and, to a greater extent, Australia).
And in a short-lived experiment announced in 2016, police in the Netherlands even went so far as to train eagles to take down rogue drones.