Artificial Intelligence helps Canadian researchers study bears

Facial recognition software is helping biologists recognize individual grizzly bears. Credit: Terry Tollefsbol/NPS

Biologists at the University of Victoria have teamed up with software experts to use facial recognition technology to identify individual grizzlies (Ursus arctos horribilis), picking up differences the human eye has trouble discerning.

“The software takes all kinds of measurements of the face in multiple dimensions and learns which features are stable in individuals,” Melanie Clapham, lead author of a paper on the technology, told the Vancouver Sun. “We need to be able to recognize them in the fall and in the spring and our initial analysis suggests that it can.”

In Alberta, the Cochrane Ecological Institute is using footprint identification technology to study black bears (Ursus americanus).

“The goal here is really to be able to identify a specific individual only using a photograph of the track without having to catch the animal or trap him or handle the animal at all,” Simon L’Allier, a biology intern at the institute, told the CBC.