A golden eagle trained to intercept drones in midair was part of the display at an air-force display attended by French president Francois Hollande.

The eagle caught a flying drone in its talons during a demonstration at Air Force Base 118 in Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France on Friday (8 December).

The French air force has been training eagles to tackle combat drones after several unmanned drone sightings at nuclear power stations. According to the French air force, drones constitute "a credible threat for a terrorist mode of action on our national territory just as they do for external operations."

Four birds of prey have been reared by the French air force since last spring. The baby eagles were placed while they were still in their eggs, on top of drones. After hatching, they were fed on top of the devices, according to the Local.

The eagles have learned to think of drones as prey by being fed meat attached to the UAV's.

"These eagles can spot the drones several thousand metres (yards) away and neutralise them," Jean-Christophe Zimmerman, a French air force general, told reporters.

Eagles were chosen as they have powerful claws to lift animals, including small mammals. The Dutch national police became the first law-enforcement agency in the world to use anti-drone North American bald eagles. The gripping strength of a bald eagle is believed to be around 10 times stronger than the grip of an adult human.

In 2015, drone flights over the Elysee presidential palace caused concerns in early 2015, and also when UAVs were spotted over a military site in Brittany.

The GFK consumer-measurement institute reported that around 300,000 drones were sold in France during 2016.

In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recorded over 670,000 drone operators, and in the last two weeks of December, an extra 37,000 new registrants. A forecast of 7 million drones to be sold in the US by 2020 was published by the FAA.

UK police are also said to be thinking about the use of eagles to combat UAVs.

Guard From Above, a raptor-training security firm based in the Hague, assisted Dutch police with the project. The company's chief executive officer Sjoerd Hoogendoorn described the project as "a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem".