Copper Pheasant Syrmaticus soemmerringii


Justification of Red List Category
This beautiful pheasant has been subject to excessive sport hunting, which, although now regulated, may still be having a significant impact. Predation by feral cats and dogs, as well as habitat degradation, are other likely threats. It is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline and is consequently categorised as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as uncommon (Madge and McGowan 2002).

Trend justification
The species is suspected to be declining at a moderately rapid rate, probably owing to hunting, introduced predators and habitat loss.

Distribution and population

Syrmaticus soemmerringii is found on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu in Japan. It was once very common, but it appears to have declined substantially because of large-scale hunting and is now considered to be uncommon and difficult to find. During the 1970s, the number of birds shot by hunters declined rapidly from c.800,000 to c.300,000 per year, but appeared to stabilise at c.100,000 per year during the 1990s.


It is found in coniferous, broadleaved and mixed forest from sea-level to 1,800 m.


The initial, and perhaps the current, decline was due to hunting; however, the shooting of females has been illegal since 1976. In addition to the effects of hunting and habitat loss, feral cats and dogs may be causing a reduction in breeding success, and hybridisation (of the five subspecies) between wild and captive-reared stock may also be a problem.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to establish the status of all of the subspecies. Regularly monitor the population at selected sites. Regulate sport hunting to ensure that it is made sustainable. Protect large areas of forest in areas where it occurs. Prevent hybridisation by the regulation of releases. Research the effects of feral introduced predators.


Text account compilers
Mahood, S., Benstead, P., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Syrmaticus soemmerringii. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/09/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/09/2019.