We evaluated the performance of global positioning system (GPS) collars deployed on free-ranging sika deer (Cervus nippon) to study their seasonal migration. We placed 21 GPS collars on 20 individual deer in the Shiranuka Hills, eastern Hokkaido, between March 2002 and March 2004. We could recover 17 (81.0%) collars and retrieved 20,278 location data from 13 collars on 12 individuals during 2002 and 2005. Tracking duration averaged 267 ± 17 (SE) days, fix success rate averaged 62.9% and ranged 34.4–81.8%. The proportion of 3-dimensional location averaged 46.4% and ranged 12.8–99.0%). We evaluated the fix success rates of three seasons (winter, migration period, and summer). In most cases, we found that the fix success rate in winter was significantly higher than that in summer. We consider the canopy cover of habitat affects the fix success rate of GPS collar. Although the GPS-based telemetry has some risks related to collar recovery and data retrieval, this method provides us a large volume of location data and is a suitable method for studying migratory behavior of sika deer.
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Vol. 35 • No. 2