A drone enthusiast in Australia gets a cheeky selfie from a curious eagle who stole his camera drone from the sky.
Matthew Wood was using a drone to take aerial photos of the scenery in the Pioneer Valley, west of Mackay in Queensland, and was having a great time until his favorite drone was attacked by an eagle.
The only clue that Wood has regarding what happened to his drone is a one-second video clip showing an eagle looking directly into the drone's camera.
“I was just flying along the grassy hills up there, and it was looking really nice and really nice lighting … then the drone took a hit,” he explained. “I was watching it all while it was connected to my controller, and all I saw was the camera pretty much looking at the ground as the eagle flew away with it.”
Mr. Wood said that he instantly jumped on his motorcycle and went down the range. He was able to pick up a GPS signal, but the drone looked to be in an area with a lot of grass or up in a tree.
Camera drones are a threat to birds
As the price of drones continues to drop, more and more people are interested in giving remotely controlled flight a go. This trend has alarmed Gisela Kaplan, a University of New England professor.
“The drone is the saddest set of activities that humans have yet rendered [against birds]… We've taken the land from them, we were cutting down roosting and nesting trees,” Professor Kaplan said. “The airspace was the only place that was for the birds.”
According to the professor, drones are not only hazardous but also terrifying to birds and are often perceived as a threat.
She went on to say that the fast spinning propellers on drones may chop the bird's legs off, which is the end of a raptor's life since they hunt with their feet.
During the nesting season, Kaplan recommends for limiting camera drone flying in certain wildlife areas.
“You don't allow fishing when there's spawning season, so don't allow drones when there's a breeding season because it will stop the birds from breeding,” she said. “And since numbers of birds are declining, we can't afford the birds that have found nesting spots not to breed.”
Drone enthusiast and photographer Matthew Wood said that restricting drone flights makes sense.
“I think it's a good idea because I like to do a checklist and run through my head before I go out… am I flying legally, am I not endangering people or things or animals?” he told ABC News. “I might have to be very aware of areas that might have eagles and where nesting season is.”
While Wood regrets losing his favorite camera drone, he understands that he was “in their habitat and had disturbed them, so they've decided to take it.”
Photo courtesy of Mr. Wood.
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