Wildlife researchers horrified by 'cute' drone video of bear cub

A still of the video.
A still of the video. Photo credit: YouTube

Wildlife researchers have spoken out about a supposedly cute video showing a bear cub running up a hill to reach its mother.

The video shows a mother bear and its cub running up a snow covered hill, the mother bear makes it up with ease but the cub has a much harder time.

Initially viewers were delighted by the video, but wildlife researchers say it shows a much darker picture of two stressed animals running for their lives.

"I found it really hard to watch," Sophie Gilbert, an ecologist at the University of Idaho, told The Atlantic.

"It showed a pretty stark lack of understanding from the drone operator of the effects that his actions were having on the bears."

Over 17 million people have watched the video since it was uploaded to ViralHog's YouTube account and several news outlets have covered it.

But scientist Clayton Lamb says the bears are clearly stressed during their trek and the mother would not normally try to climb such a steep hill with a young cub.

"There's no reason a female would normally accept that risk, unless they were forced into it," he told The Atlantic.

At one point in the video the mother bear smacks her cub away and sends it flying back down the hill, which Dr Lamb said is likely an attempt to save it from the drone as it dipped in closer for a shot.

Dr Gilbert said the incident could have been easily avoided if the drone operator, who has not been named, backed away when it noticed signs of trouble.

"When you have a struggling cub, I think the responsible thing to do is to back your drone away," she said.