Deers in Japan’s Nara Park Died From Eating Plastic Bags

Image: NH

Who doesn’t love these cute, smol fluffy deers?

GIF: Giphy.com

Awww! No one doesn’t, of course.

Hello Deer

In fact, the cuteness of deers have attracted tons of people around the world, causing people to book flights to Japan for the sole purpose of visiting a special park full of adorable deers.

Nara Park, located in Nara, Japan, is home to over 1000 deer that roam around the park, mingling up close and personal with visitors who can feed them with special deer biscuits.

It’s a crazy popular tourist destination too, with thousands of visitors crossing oceans to see the park every year. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of your friends and acquaintances surrounded by baby deers on Instagram.

Unfortunately, you know what happens when too many humans overrun a space meant for creatures of nature – more often than not, the footprint that humans leave behind cause bad things to happen to the natural world and its inhabitants.

Plastic Bags Killed Deers

Since March this year, 14 deer in the park have sadly died, due to one reason or another. Out of those numbers, nine of the deer was revealed to have died due to swallowing plastic bags and packaging.

The Nara Deer Preservation Foundation said that they were found with heavy tangled masses of snack packets and plastic in their stomachs. One of the deer, who died in March, was found to have a whopping 3.2kg of plastic in its stomach, and another had 4.3kg worth of it – that’s a crazy amount if you think about how small a deer’s stomach actually is.

GIF: Tenor.com

NOOOOOO, the poor deer! *sobs*

It’s All Because Of Tourists

Tourists are originally only supposed to feed the deer with special deer crackers called shika-senbei, which can be bought in the park itself, besides their natural diet of grass. However, some of them feed other snacks to the deer out of plastic snack packets.

Veterinarian Rie Maruko attributes this as the reason why the deer ingest so much plastic. The act of feeding them from the packets led the deer to possibly associate the plastic snack packets with food or are attracted by the smell of the food remaining in the empty packets strewn around, and thus swallow them accidentally.

Eventually, with plastic filling up their stomachs, they would die from malnutrition and weakened immune systems.

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This is why we shouldn’t litter, especially in places of nature, for the animals will end up suffering for our own careless convenience.

More Measures To Be Implemented

The Nara Prefectural Government plans to look into the situation more and put in more effort to ensure this doesn’t happen anymore. They aim to put up more preventive signs informing visitors to only feed the deer with shika-senbei and nothing else.

Currently, some members of the Deer Prevention Foundation have been patrolling the area to prevent the deer from accidentally consuming the plastic packets lying around. On Wednesday, 10 July, the foundation and some volunteers conducted an organised trash cleanup around the park area as well as the Kasuga Grand Shrine and Kofuku Temple nearby, where they picked up trash and plastic bags.

Hopefully, the situation starts looking up now that there’s more awareness about the issue. If you’re planning to visit Nara Park anytime soon, do keep in mind how much your actions could possibly affect those little cuties that you went there to see!