The effect of hunting on sika deer (Cervus nippon) was investigated through detailed investigations of their pasture utilization during autumn and winter by using a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking collar. The study was conducted around a pasture in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Before the hunting season, while the stockmen stayed in the pasture during the daytime, the collared deer preferred to utilize the pasture during the nighttime. However, at the beginning of the hunting season, the collared deer moved to a precipitous plantation of Japanese larch, located approximately 4 km north-east of the pasture. During the hunting season, the collared deer stayed there and avoided the pasture during the entire day, while after the hunting season, the collared deer preferred to utilize the sunny and clement pasture during the day as there was no human disturbance. These results showed that the behavior and habitat utilization of sika deer were affected by hunting. Thus, it was concluded that sika deer sensed the hunting activities and the presence of humans in the pasture, and altered their behavior to utilize the pasture when it was comparatively safer and more comfortable.
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Vol. 35 • No. 4