Home News Facial recognition software can now reportedly recognize bears

Facial recognition software can now reportedly recognize bears


They’ll never get away with stealing picnic baskets again!

Facial recognition software isn’t just for humans anymore — new technology can also recognize bears, CNN reported Sunday.

Melanie Clapham, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Victoria and bear biologist, teamed up with two Silicon Valley-based tech workers to create BearID, which monitors grizzly bears with mug-matching software.

“It does way better than we do,” Miller told CNN.

Using artificial intelligence, the project has been able to recognize 132 of the animals individually and it’s a much more effective — and safe — way to track animals, especially bears, Clapham explained.

Typically, scientists seeking to monitor animals in the wild pierce them with RFID tags or attach a collar, which is more expensive, shorter-lived, invasive and risky than using the software, the scientist told the outlet.

Monitoring individual bears is also important to the community — it assists with research and conservation and could even help with problems as banal as figuring out if a certain bear is eating from garbage cans or attacking farm animals.

Working with Ed Miller and Mary Nguyen, two tech-workers in San Jose, California, Clapham has been able to gather nearly 5,000 photos of bears who frequent sections of Canada and Alaska to create data sets and teach the software to spot specific furry faces.

BearID is one of several projects seeking to adapt facial recognition software for animals.

A bear being analyzed with facial recognition software.
Melanie Clapham/BearID

Joe Hoagland, a Kansas cattle rancher, is applying a similar technique to his cows with an app he’s building called CattleTracs. The app allows anyone with a device to snap photos of a cow, which will be stored in an online database with GPS coordinates and the date of the photo.

Using the app, subsequent photos of the same heifer can be used to track the cattle overtime by matching the shots to early pictures.

This will be especially useful in disease management, Hoagland told CNN.

While beef cattle end up passing through many people and places throughout their lives, little tracking is done, which can make it hard to investigate animal-based diseases.

“Being able to trace that diseased animal, find its source, quarantine it, do contact tracing — all the things we’re talking about with coronavirus are things we can do with animals, too,” the rancher said.

He expects his app to be available by the end of the year.

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