Since the earliest days of livestock domestication, shepherds have looked for new ways to protect their roaming herds from jaws of opportunistic predators. But now, thanks to new device being tested on sheep in Switzerland, those otherwise defenseless animals can do more than cry wolf -- they can send it as a text.
Throughout Europe, many predatory species were hunted to the brink of extinction by farmers hoping to mitigate attacks on their animals, though as populations have begun to rebound, so too have the age-old tensions between humans and wolves. In hopes of easing the urge to cull predators as a preventative measure, Swiss biologist Jean-Marc Landry has developed a clever heart-rate monitoring collar for sheep to alerting farmers by phone when their livestock are in distress.
Perhaps the message will look something like this.
According to the BBC, collars are currently being tested on sheep near the Swiss Alps where wolf attacks on livestock is once again becoming a problem, particularly among flocks not guarded by a sheepdog.
Early prototypes of the collar, employing heart rate monitors similar to those used by runners to fine-tune their training, have been tested on 12 Swiss sheep. The tests, carried out in the Bernese Alps above Les Diablerets, involved scaring the sheep with two muzzled Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs. This revealed that the resting heart rate of a sheep of about 60-80 beats-per-minute rises almost threefold when the animal is stressed.
Although the devices aren't available just yet, several other wolf-prone nations have expressed interest in the idea.