Scientists have discovered that American black bears freak out when they spot a UFO or drone in the sky, but they managed to hide their stress. The study by University of Minnesota researchers could help in the better deployment of drones without affecting animals.
Wild American black bears in northern Minnesota were attached with biosensors, determine if they were affected by drones. Though previous studies showed that they were not affected by drones, the new study found that their heart rate went up by four times the usual rate, indicating significant stress. The drones were flown overhead for five minutes, resulting in this impact.
“Some of the spikes in the heart rate of bears were far beyond what we expected,” said Mark Ditmer of the University of Minnesota, St. Paul.
The study authors mentioned that biologists are increasingly using drones and UAVs, in areas which are less accessible. They are also cost-effective when compared to traditional aerial methods. Conservationists and researchers use UAVs to monitor diversity, population and to prevent poaching. Though these drones can be less intrusive than human presence, they could affect the quality of data collected by researchers. Mr. Ditmer and his team are now working with captive bears, and determine how long they would take to get used to the drones.
In a recent study with wild penguins, they would allow a rover to approach more closely than a human, but they were more comfortable with a rover disguised as a baby penguin. An animal should be studied in its natural habitat without the animal knowing that there is a data collection device.
Researchers conducted the study on four bears with 17 drone encounters. Though their heart rates soared, they almost returned to the normal rate after 10 minutes. The study authors added that more questions about the impact on drones need to be answered. The study has been published in the journal Current Biology.
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