Bad News for Bears: Drones Stress Them Out
Wildlife researchers and conservationists seem to find a new use for unmanned aerial vehicles every day.
Remote-controlled drones are already patrolling the African bush for elephant and rhino poachers, counting dolphins off California’s coast, keeping tabs on Mexico’s sea turtles, and giving wildlife enthusiasts a whole new perspective on their favorite animals.
But with all of the buzz around drones, there’s been little research on whether there’s a negative impact to flying an aircraft into an animal’s natural habitat.
For black bears, drones can be stressful—even if they don’t show it.
That’s according to a recent study published in the journal Current Biology that found that even when the bears exhibited no outward agitation, the mere presence of a drone in the sky raised the animals’ heart rate—sometimes as much as four times higher than normal.
It’s the first time a study has looked at what kind of physiological effects a drone’s presence has on an animal, and not just the observable changes in behavior, such as running or swimming away from the flying machine.