Drone Operators Might Have to Consider the Psychological State of Bears



A Bear that’s obviously stressed out.

We are always mindful of animals’ well-being as Americans but do we really have to worry about whether or not bears are stressed?

NPR actually published a quasi-study of four bears subjected to drones flying overhead. Mark Ditmer, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul conducted the study to find out how bears feel about drones hovering overhead.

The drones changed the heart rates of the bears significantly.


Another stressed-out bear and not a drone in sight.

Isn’t that normal? Don’t animals react to anything new? I imagine they reacted the first time they heard a jet or a human.

They conducted a mere 18 flights over only four bears. One bear – that’s right, ONE – had a heartbeat increase 400%. If these so-called scientists conducted a study of bears subjected to other unfamiliar noises, NPR didn’t say.

A picture taken on July 12, 2012 shows a

The culprit

We need to be aware that just because we can’t visually see an effect, that it doesn’t mean there’s not some sort of stress response going on,” Ditmer said.

One bear foraging in a cornfield did run away for, maybe, 15 feet but then stopped, says Ditmer, “and watched the drone circle overhead.”

“We don’t know if bears or other species can habituate to having drones flying over them,” he says. “Right now, it’s just getting started — but I guarantee you in five to 10 years it will just be commonplace to be using them for many aspects of research and conservation.”

I can see more government funds being wasted on the next study.


They’re usually not cuddly teddy bears.

Before we make any rules about drones, we have to psychoanalyze the animals. What next?


  1. No such concern for the upset dad who dealt with a drone hovering over his sunbathing daughter in their backyard. The police came and arrested him when he blew it out of the sky with a shotgun. Dad’s psychological state and daughter’s personal security weren’t even considered.

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