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Nara begins deer culling program

23 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

The city of Nara has a number of attractions with cultural, historical, or religious significance, such as Todaiji Temple and its Great Buddha statue. However, what the city is arguably best known for is the herds of deer that wander freely through Nara Park and the city streets.

Not only do the deer delight visitors by adorably greeting them and serving as motifs for frozen desserts, they also have a deep connection to the Shinto faith. Shintoism holds that there is divinity in many aspects of nature, and Nara’s deer are considered to be messengers of the gods. Under the auspices of Nara’s Kasuga Taisha Shrine, the deer have enjoyed status as a protected species within the city limits, but as of last week Nara’s Prefectural government has begun a capture and culling program to reduce the animals’ population within the city.

Over the past few years, local farmers say that the deer have been causing increasing levels of damage to the crops growing in their fields and rice paddies. As a countermeasure, deer traps, in the form of large cages (roughly as high as a man’s waist), have been placed in a number of areas in Nara City and baited, with the aim of capturing, and culling, deer.

The authorities have set a limit of 120 deer that may be culled between now and the end of the year. However, even that is too many in the opinion of the Japan Bear and Forest Society, which is based in Hyogo Prefecture. Speaking to the media, the society’s chairwoman, Mariko Moriyama, said that the organization feels that “the needless killing is a crime,” and says that countermeasures should instead focus on installing more effective fences around farmland where the deer have been causing damage.

However, some farmers feel that culling is the only way to stem the damage to their livelihoods. One asserts that the deer in his district are able to leap as high as two meters (6.6 feet), implying that fences would have to be higher than that to be effective. Another expressed his reluctant resignation to the culling as necessary by saying “I know they are messengers of the gods, but they don’t seem like it up here in the mountains” and sharing his observation that the deer have become increasingly aggressive in recent years.

Despite the criticism from the Japan Bear and Forest Society, the Nara Prefectural Government says it has no plans to alter its decision on culling the animals. However, the authorities have said that no deer will be culled from the city’s famous Nara Park, nor from anywhere in the city center. Those in charge of the program also assert that there is hardly any migration of deer between the areas in which the animals will continue to be protected and the rural outskirts where the culling will take place, so if you snapped a picture with a cute deer on your last trip to Nara, odds are it’ll still be alive and well for some time to come.

Sources: Yahoo! Japan News/MBS via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Nara’s deer continue their summertime tradition of commandeering one of the city’s streets

-- Thinking about moving to Nara? Here are eight things that may surprise you!

-- Why deer are drawn to train tracks, and how Japan is solving the problem with this simple block

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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Culling deer is an emotive subject, especially when they are a religious item, the lady said “the needless killing is a crime,” errr, no its not it a for of keeping the dear in check, if not this problem WILL get worse and worse, it is a major problem in the UK, deer quite often run out in from of cars, busses, lorries, needless to to say there is no happy ending for both parties, it has been know for motor bikers to be knocked off there bikes, as for the crop eating, well thats going to worse to, as these deer reproduce they need food! so if there is not enough in the park they will spill out into the surrounding farms, and this is happening right now. having a structured cull is very important to all. if this is done properly there should be no stress or undue harm brought about on the deer, the meat is loverly the hides can be used, I quite often hear people belly aching over stuff like this but 99% of them don't own farms that have there lively hood being eaten, most of the "fluffy bunny brigade" as we call them live in the cities, and have no direct contact with the rural surroundings, there heads are ruled by there hearts. I am in favour of a structured cull and it must be done with out causing the animal stress of harm.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I just find the deer there mangy, stinky and annoying.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Nara could capitalize on this and start sport hunting tours for the public! Professional hunters can pay a fee for a safe guided hunt and either sell the meat to vendors or skin their kills. 120 is a lot, they should really make a business out of it

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

All for the cull but let a properly trained game warden do it, is no tours, etc.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

In the UK you have to have a licence to process the deer, IE you need to look out for problems with the meat so you can identify any abnormalities, this way bad meat is not consumed, etc, I don't think that any one should be able to go culling the deer , but only trained people, as for sport hunting tours, absolutely no way! if you know any thing about hunting, these animals are very difficult to hunt in the wild, it usually consists one one or two people, as for paying for the right to hunt, well that is a possibility, but it need to be managed very well. one final thing over the original news page, they never said if it was going to be a selective cull IE only the young males are culled? is there going to be a ban on certain times of the year, so that it does not coincide with breading times.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Hunger Games: Venison Edition

"And may the odds be ever in your favor!"

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I hope this means venison in the shops.

The UK had a deer cull a couple of years back and we had cheap venison steaks and burgers in the supermarkets for a while.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

In the UK you have to have a licence to process the deer.

Here the meat, if it is to be sold or used for human consumption, would have to go through the processing center that already exists in in prefecture.

Used to be a time where, farm animals could be slaughtered on the farm and sold for profit, but now they have to by law go through the center. The exception being poultry.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

the deer have become increasingly aggressive in recent years.

I'd be aggressive if my natural environment and food sources were shrinking.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Oh, deer. Shika sent to the slaughter. All because they get in the way; the godless, lumbering beasts.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Culling is never a sustainable, long term solution. The remaining are only going to benefit from a greater food supply which means they will begin to produce more deer and begin to reproduce at a younger age. People under the impression that killing is the only solution are simply misinformed.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Culling is indeed not a "long term" solution. But the only absolute long term solution is the complete elimination of the species. Compared to which, culling seems to be a far more reasonable approach. Culling is a conservation tool, just like protection, to effectively manage a wildlife population. Deer multiply very rapidly when certain conditions are met; sufficient food, sufficient habitat area, and NO predators. In all cases where deer and humans coexist, these conditions are met. Humans have eliminated the natural predators.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Culling is indeed not a "long term" solution. But the only absolute long term solution is the complete elimination of the species.

And that is obviously impractical for legal and safety not to mention ethical reasons. There needs to be a combination approach using both lethal and nonlethal methods -- for one generation through regulated hunting and into the future with surgical techniques like ovariectomy surgery.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Guessing that Japanese Sika don't have ticks?? Imagine all these deer dropping ticks and causing Lyme disease? Would be a major health issue.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Guessing that Japanese Sika don't have ticks?

I'm pretty sure they have ticks. Whether the ticks carry Lyme disease is a different question. I've read of cases of Lyme disease in northern areas (Hokkaido, but also Nagano), but perhaps confined to animals and not humans. I think SFTS has more attention than Lyme disease at the moment as a tick-borne disease.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I see a disconnect between the deer roaming Nara Park and elsewhere in the city and farmers having problems with deer. Do they in fact know that these are the same deer? I've been to Nara at least 6 times and I don't remember any farm plots within the city limits other than those private paddies adjacent to the houses going up the slope behind Todaiji. Aerial shots on Google Earth show no farm land anywhere near the historical sites where the deer congregate.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't think culling is necessary for control deer population. It's short term solution and cruel. The local Government should consider desexing them to control deer population. The culling of innocent deer will damage image of Nara City and Buddhism.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Non lethal means to deal with isolated deer herds is certainly possible with a variety of vaccines/contraceptives/surgical interventions that have been government approved. Managing free ranging populations over large landscapes presents for any wild animal is still very much experimental.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

farmers need to go back to school and learn about what a fence is.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

the authorities have said that no deer will be culled from the city’s famous Nara Park, nor from anywhere in the city center. ..... there is hardly any migration of deer between the areas in which the animals will continue to be protected and the rural outskirts where the culling will take place

Oh well that's all right then. There isn't going to be pools of blood on the grass of Nara Park to upset the tourists. If you can't see the slaughter, you can pretend it doesn't happen. (rolls eyes)

Leave the damn deer alone. Learn to build proper fences. Serve them contraceptive-laced food away from your crops, which would serve the dual purpose of saving your crops in the short term and keeping numbers down in the long term. Remember the deer are a far bigger attraction to Nara than a bunch of farmers in the hills.

Of course, for people of a certain ... bent, trophy hunting and the promise of carrion to eat always trumps thoughtful, civilised behaviour.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Some people above have suggested a wholesale slaughter, why? is this really necessary? IF this was properly managed, IE you have a game warden who could keep an eye on the deer population this creates employment, also the local government could charge for hunters to hunt them, more income, hunters staying in local houses, more income, as for Liz's idea of giving them food that is a contraceptive, well that's a good idea, (not) have you thought about the consequences or implications of this? what about other animals that would feed on the food, from birds to other mammals? this would have serious implications on the wildlife in that area. if this was possible we here in the UK would have used this method a long time ago, as for caching them and sterilising them, really? obviously you don't have a understanding of deer in nature or wildlife management. the next point is fencing, would you want to live inside a town what looks like fort knox with all of the wire fencing every where? and who is going to pay for all of the fencing and the upkeep of it?

@Chop chop, "t's short term solution and cruel." I would say that you live in the city, is this correct? I put it to you that if you lived in the rural area and you was a small farmer who's living depended on a hand full of crops each year, would you still think the same way? i bought it,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm talking about government registered immunocontraceptive vaccines like PZP and GonaCon which have wildlife control mechanisms that have been studied for decades, not only in white tailed deer populations but prairie dogs, wild horses and free roaming dogs among others.  The EPA would regulate all these uses. 

EPA gives thumbs up on vaccine to manage deer populations humanely

http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/07/epa-gives-thumbs-vaccine-manage-deer-populations-humanely.html?credit=blog_post_080917_idhome-page

1 ( +1 / -0 )

LizzAug. 9  08:27 pm JST I'm talking about government registered immunocontraceptive vaccines like PZP and GonaCon which have wildlife control mechanisms that have been studied for decades, not only in white tailed deer populations but prairie dogs, wild horses and free roaming dogs among others. The EPA would regulate all these uses.

Stop it, Lizz! Just stop it. You're being rational.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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