‘BearID’: B.C. researchers use artificial intelligence to identify and track bears

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Researchers say the new technology, termed BearID, created a ‘non-invasive’ technique to study the animals. Melanie Clapham/Handout Despite a decade of behavioural research on grizzly bears in B.C.’s Knight Inlet, Melanie Clapham still has trouble telling some individual bears apart. Brown bears, which include grizzly bears, can change dramatically in their appearance during their younger years and, unlike other wildlife that has spots or stripes, they lack distinguishing markings on their bodies. Ms. Clapham, a conservation biologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Victoria, dreamed of technology that could help her individually identify these furry mammals. While she was looking for a tech team to make that idea possible, south of the border, Ed Miller and Mary Nguyen, two Silicon Valley engineers who are also outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts, had started a project to develop machine-learning models that could be adapted to grizzly bears. Story continues below advertisement The three connected in 2017 through a conservation technology network. Their research, published in the open-access journal, Ecology and Evolution, earlier this month, has culminated in a system that uses deep learning, a method of artificial intelligence, to detect and identify brown bears from photographs. Researchers say the …

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