2002 Volume 34 Issue 1 Pages 80-88
The fate of captive-bred Copper Pheasants Syrmaticus soemmerringii released in Tochigi Prefecture, eastern Japan, in order to restore the wild population, was investigated based on mark and recapture information, on hunting data and by radio tracking. From 1989 to 1997, the recapture rate of all released individuals was 1.3%. Most recovered Copper Pheasants were hunted within one hunting season after their release. Only 0.3% of all released individuals were recaptured beyond two hunting seasons. The extremely short longevity (average 11.4 days after release) of released birds was confirmed by radio tracking in Tochigi Prefectural Citizen's Park. Distances between release and recovery points averaged 14.6km, but some individuals moved more than 40km, and one 87km. Our results show that it is difficult to achieve population recovery using current methods. Based on our experience, we propose various improved release methods, including: changing the release points of males from refuges to hunting areas, and releasing females just before the breeding season.