A Michigan bald eagle proved that nature can still triumph over machines when it attacked and drowned a nearly $1,000 government drone.
The rogue eagle tussled with a drone operated by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) July 21, the department announced Thursday. EGLE asked the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) if it could issue a citation against the eagle, but the department said it had no authority over non-human wildlife.
"Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do," a DNR spokesman said. "Nature is a cruel and unforgiving mistress."
Shoreline-mapping EGLE #drone sent to watery Lake Michigan grave by U.P. bald eagle: https://t.co/cpt7Gx8kkG… https://t.co/2SeaNgzDIX— Michigan EGLE (@Michigan EGLE)1597322220.0
The drone, a $950 Phantom 4 Pro Advanced, was helping to map the Lake Michigan shoreline for erosion when the eagle struck.
EGLE environmental quality analyst and drone pilot Hunter King said he had commanded the drone to return from a mapping expedition near Escanaba in Michigan's Upper Peninsula because of weak satellite reception. He was watching it head back through a video screen when the image began to rotate violently.
"It was like a really bad rollercoaster ride," King said.
When he looked up, the drone had disappeared, and an eagle was racing away. A couple who had been birdwatching nearby said they had seen an eagle attack something, but did not know it was a drone. The eagle appeared to fly away from the incident unharmed.
"The attack could have been a territorial squabble with the electronic foe, or just a hungry eagle. Or maybe it did not like its name being misspelled," EGLE wrote.
After the eagle struck, the drone took 3.5 seconds to plummet into the water, The Associated Press reported. During that time, it sent 27 warning notifications, including one indicating one of its propellers was missing, likely torn off by the bird.
King and the couple tried and failed to find the fallen drone, EGLE said. Later attempts to recover the drone based on data pinpointing its location in the water also proved unsuccessful due to poor visibility.
"Hunting birds, such as eagles and hawks, are especially dangerous," 3D Insider wrote. "They can be very territorial, and they will treat any flying object as a prey."
The Dutch police have even trained eagles to take out quadcopters because of the increased use of drones to smuggle illegal drugs or commit other crimes.
But EGLE's drone was not doing anything illegal. Instead, it was providing a beneficial service by mapping erosion to help communities respond to high water levels. To save future drones from falling in the line of duty, the department is considering using "skins" or other adjustments to make them look less like seagulls.But while the bald eagle attack was bad news for the drone, it is ultimately a positive sign for the formerly endangered species, The Detroit News pointed out. The birds' Michigan population has soared from just 76 in the early 1970s to around 2,500 today.
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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