Usually security cameras are designed to spot burglars and other intruders. In the Arctic and remote town of Churchill in Canada, radars are being programmed that would alert people when a polar bear approaches town to limit potentially dangerous encounters between man and beast.
The hundreds of polar bears that live in the Hudson Bay area wait for winter to come so they can venture out onto the ice and hunt for seals. In the meantime, they stay onshore and pose a threat to the 900 residents of Churchill.
According to Geoff York, senior conservation director at Polar Bears International, the radar would be able to see through the snow and darkness and recognize polar bears in the tundra. “It’s one more way to keep communities or camps safe,” he said to Reuters.
Since sea ice has been breaking up earlier and forming later, there have been more bears onshore for longer periods of time. “We’re setting up this perfect scenario for increased human-bear interaction,” said York, “and increased human-bear conflict. We’re trying to get ahead of that.”
The technology will be deployed next year in Longyearbyen in Svalbard. If the radar system proves successful, it could change how humans living in polar bear territory move and limit the number of dangerous encounters.