First the smart phone, now the smart collar

By Susan Aiello • Published: May 1st, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves

Ever since TV programs like Wild Kingdom hit the scene, people have grown familiar with tracking collars attached to wild animals.

Traditionally, a transmitter in the collar tells scientists an animal’s location at any time. But a new generation of collars may be able to tell a whole lot more. Combining GPS with accelerometers, these smart collars can build a daily diary that tells when and where animals are resting, hunting or stalking. Metabolic data from captive animals can then be used to estimate the calories burned and oxygen used for each of these activities.

The collar is currently being developed for mountain lions but may soon be adapted for wolves, coyotes and eventually prey species such as elk.

By using these collars, scientists hope to gain a record of the ebb and flow of an ecosystem.