Bears may seem pretty tough, but get them anywhere near a UFO and they absolutely freak out.
A new study has proved that bears and UFOs don’t mix, even though the predators have kept their cool around them in previous tests. Turns out, they were just being strong on the outside because, in reality, their heart rates skyrocketed whenever they saw one, Science News reported.
It may seem silly for scientists to figure out how bears react to UFOs, but the study was actually examining their reaction to drones. And this is important because they are increasingly being used to observe and study wildlife.
If the UFOs stress out the wildlife, its use may have to be reconsidered, and there are some hints that other animals are frightened of drones. Recently, someone flew one around a herd of bighorn sheep, and they flipped out. The end result: The flock dispersed and babies were separated from their moms.
The National Park Service has already dubbed drones unwelcome, banning their use within their boundaries.
The study was run by Mark Ditmer at the University of Minnesota, and a family of bears in the state’s northwest region were chosen to be spooked with UFOs. Two mother black bears and their cubs, a male about one-year-old and a female just starting her hibernation, were outfitted with GPS and a heart monitor.
Then, they brought in the UFOs.
Eighteen times, researchers flew in a small quadcopter within 65 feet of a bear and noted the response.
“Some of the spikes in the heart rate of the bears were far beyond what we expected,” Ditmer told the Telegraph.
In other words, the bears were stressed right out when the UFOs appeared, especially if it was windy enough to muffle the sound of its arrival. As they approached, the GPS trackers constantly notified researchers of the bears’ location, and the drones were programmed to follow them, the Business Standard added.
Only two animals showed any outward reaction, but their strong bear hearts all pounded when they saw the UFO. One ran away, another’s heart rate shot up from a calm 41 beats per minute to an absolutely frantic 162. This terrified bear spent the next 28 hours running four miles to get away from it.
She was so freaked out she ended up wandering into a neighbor’s turf.
Luckily, the bears calmed down after about 30 minutes. However, they lived in a fairly populated area, and so may have been a little less startled than bears who live in more isolated areas. More study is needed, and Ditmer is now testing captive bears to see if they can get used to UFOs.
But this test alone has Ditmer questioning the wisdom of using drones, a tool that’s become popular among wildlife researchers to observe animals in nature over long distances and rough terrain.
“Until we know which species are tolerant of UAVs, at what distance animals react to the presence of UAVs, and whether or not individuals can habituate to their presence, we need to exercise caution when using them around wildlife.”
At the very least, people who own drones should be careful about where they fly their toys — and be mindful about any animals nearby. Because it’s probably not a good idea to surprise a bear.
[Photo Courtesy Tom Reichner/Shutterstock]