If you needed another reminder of how weirdly incredible technology is, this is it. Sheep will soon be able to alert their shepherds that a wolf attack is imminent by sending a text.
Before you start imagining sheep fishing mobile phones out of their wool, the text actually comes from a collar around the sheep’s neck. The collar monitors the sheep’s heartbeat, which naturally increases significantly before an attack as the sheep senses the presence of a predator.
Once it detects an elevated heartbeat, the collar emits a repellant to drive the attacker away (which would probably be pretty strong coming from a whole herd). It then alerts the shepherd via SMS to check on the flock — hopefully, the shepherd doesn’t live too far from the sheep.
The collar is only just at prototype stage, but it proved successful in preliminary tests where two muzzled wolf-like dogs “attacked” 10 Swiss sheep. Testing in Switzerland and France will begin at the end of the year, and into 2013. Other countries are also interested in the developing technology.
The developers hope the collar will not only reduce the amount of wolf attacks (which are on the rise in Switzerland), but it could also be a low-cost solution for shepherds who can't afford sheepdogs or keep guard dogs for smaller flocks.