Scientists test polar bear sound repellent
Scientists tested a device that uses sound to repel polar bears on Novaya Zemlya. The tool is designed to ensure the safety of Arctic villages and reduce the number of conflicts between humans and polar bears. The unique equipment was created by the Applied Acoustics Research Institute together with WWF Russia, according to the fund's press service.
Experts of the Moscow Zoo, Russian Arctic National Park and the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences took part in the testing. It was held at a waste site located three kilometers away from the village of Belushya Guba, where over 50 polar bears gathered in February 2019, causing a state of emergency.
During the test, the experts managed to see how five bears reacted to the device. The bears had different reactions: the older and probably more cautious bears went away, while a youngster stayed at the dump, although it showed signs of great discomfort. The weather — constant snow and short daylight — made the scientists' work more difficult, so the results of the testing are only preliminary.
"Although further work on the tool and additional tests are required, the idea to scare bears away with sound has proved viable. Still, don't think that this repellent means 100-percent safety. It is extremely important for the locals to properly dispose of food and other waste that can attract bears, respond quickly and in the right way when bears appear, and have an alert system," noted Mikhail Stishov, the WWF Russia coordinator of projects on Arctic biodiversity preservation.
Experts from the Applied Acoustics Research Institute plan to finish working on the device soon: they will adapt it to the northern conditions and make sure it is safe for animals. In addition, they are designing a lighter version of the tool that a single person can carry. This model will be sent to a polar bear patrol in Chukotka for tests. The next trial on Novaya Zemlya is scheduled for next August-September.