A city in northern Japan has been using robot “Monster Wolves” to ward off wild bears that become more active in search of food ahead of hibernating later this month.
Takikawa, located in Hokkaido, installed two such robots after spotting the animals in its neighborhoods in September — and welcomed none since.
The Monster Wolf is equipped with sensors that detect movement. When activated, the robot moves its head, flashes red light through its eyes and emits sounds that range from “wolfish howling to machinery noises,” according to Reuters.
Inventor Ohta Seiki has reportedly sold some 70 units since 2018. Other areas have also purchased the robot to deter deer and wild boars that target farming produce.
Takikawa, which rarely receives reports of bear sightings, has recorded 10 since May 28. It’s unclear what exactly drives the animals into the neighborhoods, but a decrease of acorns and nuts in the wild is believed to be a contributing factor.
On Sept. 14, residents located 6 kilometers (3.73 miles) from the city’s denser areas and 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) from a riverbank reported that they could “see a bear from the window” of their homes. A cub was also seen in the same area three days earlier.
Overall, Japan has seen a dozen of bear attacks this year, two of which were fatal. Authorities held an emergency meeting to address the issue last month.
The robots will be removed some time this month, just before the bears commence their hibernation period.
Yuji Ota, who heads Ohta Seiki, told The Mainichi, “We want to let the bears know, ‘Human settlements aren’t where you live,’ and help with the coexistence of bears and people.”
Ohta Seiki, which is also based in Hokkaido, developed the robot in partnership with Hokkaido University and the Tokyo University of Agriculture.
Feature Image Screenshots via The Telegraph