Drones are making technological advances with every passing year and are increasingly being used for many professional and important services, as well as for recreational purposes. While there are restrictions in place that limit where recreational drone pilots can fly their UAV’s, there is little to stop them from being flown wherever there is open sky, and in whatever places the pilot can access by foot. In most cases, drones are flown respectfully and without causing harm to anyone or anything, but recent footage of a brown bear and her cub shot on the coast of Russia, has had people asking whether there ought to be limits to drone usage where wildlife is involved.
What did the footage show?
The drone footage, shot by amateur photographer Dmitry Kedrov off Russia’s coast on the Sea of Okhotsk, shows a brown bear cub trying in earnest to scale the steep heights of a dangerously snowy slope. The cub repeatedly falls back down to where it started from, with its mother keeping watch and urging him to reach the peak where she’s waiting for him.
Many of those viewing the footage for the first time, saw what appeared to be the mother bear, reaching out her paw to help her cub reach the peak. Millions thought how cute the images were, believing them to be showing the determination of both the mother and her cub to reach the top of the snowy slope. Little did they realise the truth behind the video.
What did the footage really show?
Watch the video again, however, and what you’ll see is in fact something quite different and more disturbing.
The footage of the bears has obviously been captured by a drone, and while it may look as if the mother bear was extending her paw to help her cub, she may in fact, have been taking a swipe at the drone that she doubtless feared may harm her or her precious offspring. Although in swiping at the drone she had inadvertently sent her cub careening back down the slope, thankfully he managed to clamber back up to safety, but her actions could so easily have had deadly results for the vulnerable cub.
What do the experts have to say about it?
While the footage has a happy ending, many scientists and wildlife experts have expressed their consternation over the video and the way it was filmed, arguing that the drone zoomed in far too close to the wild animals at one point, and that the mother bear even looked directly at the device and took a swipe at it, causing the cub to take a treacherous tumble.
What did the drone operator have to say about it?
Drone pilot, Kedrov, insists that the effect he achieved through zooming in on the bears, was completed after the footage was taken and that his drone caused no obvious distress to the animals, but experts aren’t so sure.
Some experts have agreed that it could be a zoom function on the video camera built in to the drone, but with recreational or consumer drone, most do not have the payload capacity to come equipped with a camera and high-quality zoom lens.
Drones, when flown responsibly, can be wonderful tools with many roles to play in modern life, but taking advantage of their versatility and using them for purposes that may be detrimental to the lives of the creatures we share this planet with, is perhaps not so wonderful and we should exercise our rights to fly them with caution.