Energy & Environment

Michigan officials: Bald eagle attacked and destroyed government drone

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Michigan officials on Thursday said that a bald eagle attacked a government drone, sending the aircraft to the bottom of a lake.

The incident occurred on July 21 when the eagle took down the Phantom 4 Pro Advanced quadcopter drone at around 162 feet, “tearing off a propeller and sending the aircraft to the bottom of Lake Michigan,” the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy told NBC.

An environmental quality analyst was piloting the drone and was mapping Lake Michigan for shoreline erosion before the eagle flew in and caused the drone to spiral out of control.

“The attack could have been a territorial squabble with the electronic foe, or just a hungry eagle,” the department said.

The department added a bird-watching couple watched the eagle strike something and fly away without injury.

A state drone coordinator attempted to locate the device but was unsuccessful. The drone was reportedly 150 feet offshore, laying at the bottom of four feet of water.

The drone’s worth was around $950, but the department said the model was obsolete and will be replaced with a new one.

Birds striking drones is a somewhat common occurrence, and the Federal Aviation Administration has conducted a study of collisions using simulated birds.

The department said it would look into ways to prevent future eagle attacks, noting it was looking into coverings for the drones to make them appear less like seagulls.

Tags Drone Michigan Science and technology United States Unmanned aerial vehicle
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