A Japanese Town Is Using Creepy Robotic Wolves to Scare Away Bears
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There is a bear crisis in Takikawa, a town on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. According to CNN, sightings of brown bears are at a five-year high, and bears have attacked residents, killing two people so far in 2020.
Experts believe the uptick in attacks is being caused by a shortage of acorns in the bears’ natural habitat, forcing the animals to wander into more populated areas searching for food.
To keep the bears at bay, Hokkaido machinery company Ohta Seiki has developed the "Monster Wolf," a shaggy mechanical cyber wolf with blazing red eyes. According to the website JapanKyo, the scarewolf has infrared sensors, "which, when tripped, activate the LED lights in its eyes and the speaker it has in its head, which is capable of playing approximately 40 different sounds." The cyber wolf is 4-feet long and 3-feet high.
The idea for Monster Wolf was inspired by the real-life wolves that used to wander this area and keep the bears at bay. Tragically, these wolves were hunted to extinction 100 years ago.
In Japan, conservationists have warned that more bear attacks will happen unless they get an adequate supply of acorn and food that they need. They say that bears aren't inherently dangerous and can co-exist peacefully with humans.
“They are not naturally inclined to attack humans, but attacks like those that happened recently strengthen the belief that they have to be hunted and killed,” said Murotani.
The jury is still out as to whether or not the Monster Wolf is a good temporary solution. It has been used effectively in the past to stave off deer and boars, according to Vice, but this is a first for bears. After November, the bears will hibernate, leaving the townspeople to grapple with handling this environmental crisis.