UK bases in Cyprus employ drones to catch songbird poachers

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Police at Britain's two military bases on Cyprus say the use of a state-of-the-art drone will greatly boost their ongoing crackdown on the illicit trapping of small migratory birds.

British Bases Police Chief Constable Chris Eyre says poachers can no longer use the cover of darkness for trapping because the drone has night vision.

He told The Associated Press on Thursday that the drone's use is governed by a legal framework to protect privacy rights.

The 25,000-euro ($30,000) machine's cameras can read a license plate from as high as 200 meters (656 feet). At that altitude, the drone is neither visible nor audible from the ground.

Songbird trapping feeds a lucrative underground trade among some Cypriot restaurants that serve them as a delicacy. Conservationists say the trade is worth millions.