Animal Behaviour

Hiking Club members who like me have come across four legged large brown jobs (LBJs) inconveniencing their walking may have found a reason to study their habits more closely in the interests of them not getting in the way or to avoid getting their compass out. A Prague University PhD student has made a detailed study of roe deer to research the widely held belief among hunters and herdsmen that animals tend to align themselves relative to the earth’s magnetic field. Firstly ensuring that he had not been noticed he approached the deer until they became alarmed and noted their flight path. He found a tendency for them to move north or south initially even if they later veered off to the nearest source of cover. The results were not overwhelming but apparently statistically significant. The most interesting finding was that when approached from the east or west the deer more frequently ran north or south rather than directly away from the researcher. The corollary to this would seem to be to determine if predators that hunt in packs are aware of this phenomenon and position themselves accordingly  (The Economist/Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology)


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