Aug. 6, 2012 at 12:25 PM ET
Modern-day shepherds may soon gaze at their smartphones instead of their flock thanks to a high-tech sheep collar that sends a text message when a wolf attacks.
The collar is under development in Europe where wolves are making a comeback. In concept, it could be used as a replacement for sheepdogs, which are apparently more costly to maintain in a world where just about everyone carries a mobile phone.
In a recent trial, a heart-rate monitor similar to those worn by gadget-obsessed runners was fitted to the collars of 12 sheep. When a pair of muzzled Czechoslovakian wolfdogs attacked, the sheep's hearts jumped from around 80 beats per minute to 225.
The spike was sharp enough to warrant building a future version that will emit a repellant to drive away the wolf as well as send a text message to a shepherd, Swiss biologist Jean-Marc Landry from the Swiss carnivore research group Kora told The Telegraph.
Field trials with the texting collar are expected to begin in this fall in Switzerland with a final prototype ready for testing in 2013.