Texting sheep collar protects ewe from wolf attack

Sheep could soon don heartbeat-monitoring collars that text shepherds to warn of wolf attack. No, really.

It's not easy being a wolf. You finally find a delicious sheep to eat, but before you can take a bite it sprays you with repellent chemicals and then texts a shepherd who comes and chases you off with a horrible big stick.

A biologist in Switzerland is researching an SMS-powered sheep collar that monitors the woolly one's heart rate, and could summon a shepherd if a significant change is detected, the BBC reports.

Tests have already been carried out on 12 unlucky sheep, who were scared by muzzled Czechoslovakian wolfdogs while their heartbeats were monitored, revealing that the grass-munching animals' heart rates jumped significantly when stressed out.

Phys.org reports that a prototype collar should be ready this autumn, with testing planned for 2013. The bovid bracelet is the brain-child of one Jean-Marc Landry from carnivore research group Kora, and as well as sending distress texts it could also emit a loud noise or spray a chemical repellent to confound predators.

Sheep in Switzerland are increasingly under threat from prowling wolves, and Landry says the high-tech collar could prove helpful for shepherds who own small flocks and can't afford a sheepdog.

Sheep aren't the only farm animals getting tech augmentation -- several years back we reported on cows being fitted with RFID tags to track their movements, as well as feeding and sleeping habits.

That's not as cool as a special wolf-repellent collar, though. Is there an another beast you'd like to see getting a tech makeover? Cats with robot legs? NFC geckos? Pop your augmented animal suggestions in the comments box below, or over on our feral Facebook wall.

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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