Drones Stress Bears as Well as all Sane Humans

By Gary Cutlack on at

The trend for capturing aerial footage to bore people with like the holiday photos of old is having a negative effect on some wildlife, with researchers studying wild bears finding that the animals find the buzzing man-toys quite infuriating.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have made the claim, based on evidence assembled from their own bear-watching drone flights. The team uses drones to film the bears, while data from collars attached to American black bears lets them monitor their heart rates and other data.

They found that although the bears appear unphased by the drones their heart rates are soaring from the stress caused by some idiot and his expensive new Christmas present flying nearby. Wildlife researcher Mark Ditmer explained: "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. Keep in mind this was the strongest response we saw, but it was shocking nonetheless."

Of 18 drone flights made to observe the bears close-up, only two resulted in the bears showing any outward changes in behaviour -- yet higher heart rates showed they were always furious and scared on the inside. They're practically human. [University of Minnesota via The Register]

Image credit: Black bears from Shutterstock