A bear radar or “Beardar” developed from a military surveillance radar will be deployed for the first time at a tourist campsite near Longyearbyen, a former coal-mining town on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, next year.
The radar system will provide a warning when a bear approaches, even during snowstorms and at nights. Conservation authorities will then deploy a range of tactics from rubber bullets to helicopters to shoo the bear away, Reuters reported today.
Geoff York, senior conservation director at Polar Bears International has been “training” the system’s artificial intelligence (AI) this year to recognize bears on the tundra near Churchill, a remote, sub-Arctic town in Canada, where polar bears are spotted frequently. The system will be able to distinguish bears from other large objects, including caribou, vehicles and humans.
A 24-hour hotline receives up to 300 tips on polar bear sightings from Churchill’s residents each year.
Deploying the radar will prevent incidents such as the recent one where the Russian military shot a bear and her cub after the animals leaped onto a submarine, near Kamchatka village of Rybachiy. Since the beginning of the year, more than 50 bears were killed by the military in the region.
In January 2019, a polar bear hopped onto the Russian Navy’s Delta IV nuclear submarine while searching for food north of Norwegian Svalbard islands in the Arctic.