Back in 2017, stories emerged about solar-powered robotic wolves being developed by Japanese scientists as a solution to the problem of wild boars damaging crops.
Fast forward, and a company named Wolf Kamuy has now launched an array of these sentinel robots complete with intimidating fangs, fur, glowing red LED “eyes,” a head that moves from side to side, and a roaring 90-decibel howl.
Yet, wild boars aren’t the sole challenge confronting rural parts of Japan. Recent updates suggest that Wolf Kamuy has repurposed many of its robotic wolves to deter bears.
The “Super Monster Wolf,” as it’s called, not only safeguards farmlands but also plays a crucial role in protecting farmers. A report from BBC on October 1 revealed that bears, due to factors such as climate change, deforestation, and urban sprawl, are becoming a significant and occasionally lethal nuisance in various Japanese regions.
Interestingly, bear numbers in places like Hokkaido seem to be on the rise, a phenomenon coinciding with Japan’s aging populace and shrinking birth rates. Based on BBC’s data, some scientists peg the bear count in Hokkaido at over 22,000.
Over the last 60 years, the region has witnessed around 150 bear attacks, including four in 2021 alone. Additionally, bears are more frequently venturing into towns and cities adjacent to natural habitats.
This is where the Super Monster Wolf steps in. Placing these robotic guardians in urban areas aims to prevent bears from entering populated regions, thus reducing the threat to humans and bears alike.
Previous assessments have shown that the mechanical wolf’s howls can effectively keep bears at bay within an area of roughly 1 square km (around 0.38 square mi), which is arguably more effective than several electric fences.
Strategically positioned Super Monster Wolves could serve as a boon for older populations while also safeguarding bears.
Nevertheless, relying exclusively on a fleet of robotic wolves isn’t a holistic approach to addressing bear encounters. It’s essential to understand that bears, along with countless other species, are grappling with existential challenges brought about by climate change.
Their increased forays into human settlements in search of food are a result of these pressing issues. The optimal solution lies in focusing on climate change mitigation through conservation, renewable energy sources, and sustainable city development, rather than solely banking on innovative solutions like the impressive Super Monster Wolf.