Talk about green! Endangered sheep keep Swiss tracks mowed

The Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) has hired a crew of 80 sheep to keep the railsides mowed in areas where machines can't reach. The sheep are of the Skudde variety, a domestic variety that almost disappeared in the 1970s. The sheep are moved from town to town as needed.

 

Skudde sheep are protected by ProSpecieRara, a Swiss non-profit that works to preserve endangered species. SBB, by the way, reassures that they are not endangered by their work sites, either. Low-voltage electric fences keep them away from the tracks, and on steeper embankments snow netting keeps them from falling too far.

 

SBB has about 2700 hectares (about 6600 acres) of embankments; they need to be kept clear both for appearance and to avoid problems for trains. Railroad officials say the sheep are efficient and help biodiversity because "they eat carefully instead of mowing everything down like a machine."

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