Bears aren’t fearless after all. At least not when faced with drones, a new study finds.
The research team coming from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul thought of measuring the effects of flying unmanned aerial vehicles in the close vicinity of wildlife.
It turns out that flying drones in the habitat of bears stresses the mammals to a large extent, albeit their looking fully unimpressed.
Mark Ditmer, lead researcher on the project has the idea to equip four black bears also in the area of Minnesota with cardiac trackers, as well as GPS trackers.
Unmanned aerial vehicles have a wide array of applications in scientific programs. They represent a tool that can do with highly difficult tasks, performing them with fantastic accuracy.
Gathering data, facilitating the observation of wildlife and monitoring wildlife that is perhaps not so fond of humans meddling, as well as monitoring threats to wildlife, including poaching, adds to the drones’ invaluable utility.
What with the stress factor? How do drones affect the wildlife they are supposed to help?
The report “Bears Show a Physiological but Limited Behavioral Response to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, authored by Mark Diter and published in the Current Biology journal unlocks one possible answer.
Bears are usually unimpressed with dangers or threats. Or so they look. Yet, do not be fooled by that appearance. It seems that these large predators are in fact quite frightened by the buzzing of drones. When the drones were flown near them, their heart rates spiked.
The heart rate and location of the four black bears collected via the GPS collars and the cardiac biologgers were sent back to the researchers every two minutes.
Mark Ditmer, lead researcher, stated:
“Some of the spikes in the heart rate of the bears were far beyond what we expected. We had one bear increase her heart rate by approximately 400 percent – from 41 beats per minute to 162 beats per minute”.
The results were shocking for the team. While this case was extreme, the other three bears also saw an increase in the heart rate. The data was collected during 18 flights of the unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, each lasting for approximately 5 minutes.
No permanent health issues were registered with the bears as a result of this research. However, it is important to take note of the stressful effect flying drones has on wildlife. Had it not been for the cardiac trackers, it would have looked as if the bears are barely reacting to the presence of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Photo Credits: photoshelter.com