This past weekend a video of a plucky baby bear determined to crest a steep, snow-covered slope to join its mother at the top went viral. At first, it seemed most social media posts of the video celebrated the little bear as a source of inspiration, a sort of real-life version of the classic motivational poster of the kitten hanging onto a tree branch, with “You Can Do It” written below.
But it was also clear that the video was taken by a drone, as the camera swept in for a closer look. Some viewers were immediately rubbed the wrong way. Were the bears climbing a precipitously steep and snowy ridge because they were fleeing in panic from the drone? Or was the drone just capturing bears going about their normal business?
“The video going around of a bear cub scrambling up a snowy cliff to get back to its distressed mother is being shared as a heartwarming metaphor for persistence. It’s not,” wrote University of Maine ecologist Jacquelyn Gill on Twitter. “It’s a dangerous stunt by an irresponsible drone operator who should know better.”
There’s not really any proof that a drone took the footage, but it’s clear that short of extending a camera perched on a retractable boom, there’s no other way to capture this kind of footage without a drone. The buzzing of the little flying camera would likely have been noticed by the bears too, as they are by hikers, skiers, surfers, or anybody else unwittingly the subject of the prying eyes of a drone operator.