Animals

Facial recognition AI Software Identifies Individual Bears

A research project led by UVic geography postdoctoral fellow Melanie Clapham proves that individual brown bears can be identified from photographs alone—something which had previously only been done for primates.

Melanie Clapham sets up a camera trap to record individual grizzly bears for research and monitoring. Photo: Moira Le Patourel

Melanie Clapham sets up a camera trap to record individual grizzly bears for research and monitoring. Photo: Moira Le Patourel

Using facial recognition technology, this “deep learning” technique has the potential to reduce human-wildlife conflicts by identifying particular bears (i.e. those that are repeatedly breaking into garbage cans can be identified as repeat offenders) and also has applications for other species that don't have unique or distinguishable markings.

Deep learning is a state-of-the-art method of AI (artificial intelligence) and was used by the UVic researchers and private software engineers to detect and identify grizzly bears from photos. Deep learning is a type of machine learning that learns by example and the research team used this technique to train their facial recognition software.

The freely available software, BearID, provides a valuable tool for scientists to track populations of grizzly bears.

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