No animal has more rabid fans and more hateful enemies than the wolf. It will be interesting to see what these warring sides think of the news out of Japan that a company has built a robotic Super Monster Wolf that actually protects sheep from predators. What’s more, the Super Monster Wolf uses techniques from both wolves and their sworn enemies – humans. Is this a good bot or a bad bot? Will this make a good plot or a bad plot?
The Japan News reports that an unnamed Hokkaido company created the first Super Monster Wolf to help protect livestock ranches and farmers in Kisarazu from bears, boars, deer, birds and other wild animals that destroy their flocks and crops. The robotic wolf is a little smaller than a full-sized real wolf, standing 20 inches (50 cm) tall and 25 inches (65 cm) in length. To scare away predators, the Super Monster Wolf is covered in fur (the report doesn’t say but let’s hope it’s artificial) and has a menacing head and glowing red LED eyes that blink on-and-off.
If its looks aren’t enough to scare a bear, its sounds are. When its infrared ray sensors detect an intruder, the Super Monster Wolf lets loose with a barrage of 18 sounds, starting with a natural wolf’s growl. If that doesn’t work, Super Monster Wolf goes human on the predator with the sound of a loud voice and gunshots.
Does it work? According to the agricultural cooperative association JA Kisarazu-shi, which has been testing the Super Monster Wolf for free since July 11, there have been no wild animals or birds in its general vicinity since its arrival. With that kind of performance, it will probably sell out quickly when it goes on the general market in September at the incredibly low, low price of ¥200,000 ($1,810 US).
Ironically, the manufacturer is based in Hokkaido, home of the Hokkaido wolf (Canis lupus hattai), which was hunted to extinction during the Meiji Restoration from 1868 to 1912 when agriculture was modernized using American techniques, which sadly included wiping out wolves. While there have been rumors of sightings on Sakhalin island, the last known Hokkaido wolf was killed in 1889 and the species was declared extinct in 1931.
While the robotic Super Monster Wolf may be good for Japanese ranchers and farmers, is it good for wolves? That name doesn’t help. You may recall when Animal Planet was forced to remove all traces of a Monster Week segment called “Man-Eating Super Wolves” after many protests. The presence of an unusual number of other animals is a painful reminder that their natural population-control officer – the wolf – is no longer around due to humans who are now making fake wolves to replace them.
While Robotic Super Monster Wolves might make a great movie title, it’s a lousy reminder of why they exist in the first place.