In Western Australia’s Goldfields, there’s a curious battle going on in the skies. Surveyor Rick Stevens is losing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to an unusual predator: wedge-tailed eagles.
Stevens told ABC in Australia that the eagles are the “single biggest problem in the environment” where he works, the St. Ives Mine.
Each UAV costs roughly $20,000 ($10,000 for the Trimble UX5 model drone itself, and another $10,000 for the onboard camera equipment). He uses them for surveying land, capturing large-scale, high-resolution images that can then be superimposed with detailed computer-generated plans of upcoming mining operations.
Unfortunately, the eagles seem to see the UAVs as a major threat to their turf. Stevens has lost nine UAV systems thus far—even after painting them to resemble young eagles, per a recommendation from an avian rehabilitation center. According to Mashable, Stevens now only flies his UAV in the morning, when the eagles are less active, and calls off the flight at the first eagle sighting.
For more details and aerial video of the eagle attacks, head over to ABC Goldfields.