Akkeshi-based Kushiro Ohta Agricultural Cooperative deploys drone as bear countermeasure and to assess food damage

Oct. 4
Small unmanned drone introduced by the Kushiro Ohta Agricultural Cooperative as a bear countermeasure

In response to numerous incidents of brown bear attacks on cows in the town of Akkeshi in the Eastern Hokkaido Kushiro region, the Kushiro Ohta Agricultural Cooperative has introduced a small, unmanned drone equipped with an infrared camera and speaker. On September 11, the drone was deployed for the first time in a field of animal feed dent corn that is about to be harvested. It spots and intimidates bears, and lowers the risk of bear attacks on people. The idea is for the drone to help ensure safety as well as assist in biological research and capturing bears.

The drone is 50 centimeters tall and wide, flies with four propellers, and weighs approximately 200 grams. It is equipped with a high-magnification camera that employs a heat-detecting infrared sensor and a speaker that can output sounds including a siren and a human voice, and can fly for nearly 30 minutes.

In Akkeshi as of August 15, four male bear attacks on milk cows resulted in a loss of nine cows. On the approximately 300-hectare dent corn field, 5.4 hectares of deer food damage amounting to 3.72 million yen occurred last year, but a portion of that is thought to also have been caused by bears.

On September 11, the drone surveilled fields at three ranches from a height of 30-40 meters in the air under the watch of about ten or more town officials and hunters. Observing the flight control equipment, Agricultural Cooperative staff members expressed surprise, saying, “That is what is left after a bear ate there,” and, “Wow, you can really see well through this camera.” No bears or deer were found, but the experimental flight did provide an opportunity to check the temperature sensor accuracy and the performance of the speaker sound up to 1 kilometer away in all four directions. Cooperative Director Tokuda Zenichi commented, “I hope this provides a system for finding and controlling bears, as well as assist in the capture of bears who attack milk cows.”

Location

Kushiro Ohta Agricultural Cooperative

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