Deer and magnetism

19 Jun 2016

At ... Dr Wile discusses animals reacting to earth's magnetic field such as migrating Monarch butterflies and salmon. Homing pigeons are a well known example and some people even claim if you throw your snails over next door's fence they will find their way back home (if you take them in a bucket to a nearby piece of waste ground the same thing is said to happen). True or not as far as snails might be concerned, and most people tread on them if they find them on their plants in any case (trying not to tread on the plant of course) but Dr Wile provides another example, that of cattle that align themselves with the magnetic field while they are grazing. Can't say I've noticed this but will look next time I'm passing a field of cows, and we may note the claim was not taken seriously at the time - it sounded a trifle bizarre, like the snails I suppose. However, we now have a new study that says deer also seem to graze in alignment with the magnetic field (either facing north and south but not east or west). The study also found that when deer were startled, in a group or singly, they would run either north or southwards, regardless of the direction of the threat. Now, that is surprising - and the study took a long time in several locations with varying numbers of roe deer and is clearly not just a few idle moments of observation. Do you think this is a reasonable conclusion?