Robot ‘Monster Wolves’ in Japan Scare Bears, Boars

Howling animatronic creations with red LED “eyes” are the latest technology in a campaign to protect Japan’s people from bears.

Monster Wolves are on the robotic prowl in Hokkaido, the BBC reported, where the country’s aging rural population is growing more susceptible to bear encounters.

No, the machines do not slink through the night or stalk prey. But they do roar at 90 decibels, and their heads waggle back and forth on their necks. A company named Wolf Kamuy developed the rig. The company calls it a “wildlife repeller. MONSTER WOLF takes advantage of animals’ natural tendency to sense danger and stay away.”

First used against wild boars

Monster Wolves first surfaced in 2017, when farmers deployed them to protect their crops from foraging wild boars. The robot scarecrows are a response to the well-documented dwindling of Japan’s population.

One in ten Japanese residents is now over 80 years old. And young people are quickly filtering out of the country’s rural areas.

“More and more, rural farmlands in the foothills that once acted as buffer zones between the bears and humans are disappearing,” Shinsuke Koike, a specialist in biodiversity, forest ecosystem, and bears at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, told the BBC.

The result? A staggeringly high rate of mixers between humans and bears. The Asahi Shimbun reported 54 bear encounters from April through July. Fifty-six people sustained injuries in the events and one died. It’s a 30% higher rate of incidents than in the previous record year, 2010.

Monster Wolves can deter bears and most of the species’ other natural prey to a distance of about one kilometer, its manufacturers claim. This “helps maintain coexistence and co-prosperity for both wildlife and human communities,” the company states.

a "structural drawing" of a monster wolf


If the automated guardians work, they’ll solve a problem that’s becoming trenchant. The Asahi Shimbun cited authorities who counted growing numbers of “urban bears” — individuals acclimated to civilization — in Hokkaido. The same officials said local hunters are facing bullet shortages due to copper prices and the war in Ukraine.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.