A new study has revealed that bears find unidentified flying objects so terrifying that their hearts may start to beat four (4) times faster than normal, and they may even experience heart attacks.
The research team advices state officials, military bases and fellow scientists to take greater care when flying drones above areas populated by animals.
Airborne drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are mostly used these days by conservationists, scientists, and even ecotourists to help them get a closer look at nature and wildlife. They have been put to good use as field experts have used them to ward off poachers in Africa, both in the case of elephants and rhinos, as well as gather data on humpback whales living in the wild.
As for the amateurs, they’ve used unmanned aerial vehicles to collect photos and videos of animals in their natural habitats.
The problem is that there haven’t really been any studies until now that looked at how this human practice affects animals. And it turns out that it affects them negatively. Bears especially get startled and stressed.
A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota have conducted a study on how animals react to unmanned aerial vehicles. Mark Ditmer, lead author and postdoctoral researcher from the university’s Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, gave a statement stressing how important it is for researchers to measure the animals’ reactions to the unidentified flying objects.
Investigating the subject gives researcher information on just how stressed the animals are, and as a result, how accurate their test results are. He went on to add that he and his team hope their study will inspire future research into the matter.
The team informed that black bears are so sensitive that they can even get stressed out by the mere presence of an unmanned aerial vehicle. Although, the researchers did specify that they may not always show their fear.
To reach these conclusions, they attached cardiac “biologgers” (devices used to collect heart rate data) and GPS collars to four (4) bears living in northwestern Minnesota. Two (2) of them were mothers who had young cubs, one (1) of them was a hibernating female, and the other one (1) was a young male.
They then went on to fly unmanned aerial vehicles over each subject for anywhere between one (1) and nine (9) times, and paid close attention to the bears’ heart rates and physical movements.
What they saw was that each of the bears experienced a spike in their heart rate whenever an unmanned aerial vehicle flew over their head. Ditmer and his team explained that this is a clear sign of stress.
However, one surprising finding was that even though the animals were scared, they did not run away. They just stood still instead.
Ditmer stressed that just because people can’t directly see the effects these objects are having on the animals doesn’t mean that their not there.
What’s more, the effects may be even worse on animals living in other parts of the country. The lead author explained that the bears in Minnesota are pretty used to human presence.
The findings were published earlier today (August 13, 2015), in the journal Current Biology.
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