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Nara considers increasing number of deer that can be killed each year

21 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

When people hear “Nara,” the first thing that comes to mind is deer. Deer are said to be the messengers of the Shinto gods at Kasuga Shrine, which is located inside Nara Park, and so herds of deer are allowed to roam free through the park as well. Aside from their divine status, they’re also really cute, and totally accustomed to being around people, and so the deer have become both Nara’s most recognizable symbol and its biggest tourism draw.

Now, however, the Nara Prefectural government is considering increasing the limit on how many deer can be killed in Nara, and where.

Currently, in terms of deer territory, Nara is divided into three zones. Nara Park and its immediate surroundings are classified as the Protected Zone. Outside the Protected Zone is the Buffer Zone, and outside that is the Controlled Zone. Within the Protected Zone, deer can pretty much do whatever they want. In the Controlled Zone, though, up to 180 deer a year can be culled, for the purpose of preventing damage to local farms and other parts of the community caused by the animals.

Where things start to get complicated is the Buffer Zone. Deer that cause agricultural or other damage in this area are not killed, but instead are sent to a fenced living facility maintained by the Nara Deer Preservation Foundation, a non-government conservation group. The NDPF then cares for the deer, providing them with food, for the rest of their lives.

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Image: SoraNews24

However, the Nara Prefectural government has been disappointed with what it’s seen in recent reviews of the facility, feeling that the animals are unhealthy and not sufficiently fed. They have asked the NDPF to improve the conditions, but with over 270 deer currently in the facility, the prefectural government apparently doesn’t feel that significant improvements and expanded capacity can be achieved in short order. Last week, in a committee meeting at the prefectural capital, lawmakers announced that they are formally considering expanding the area in which deer can be culled by shrinking the Buffer Zone, as well as increasing the limit on the number of deer that can be killed each year.

The current limits will remain in place for the time being, but over the course of the coming year, administrators will be monitoring the situation, and if deemed necessary the expanded culling area and higher culling limit would go into effect next spring.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Nara, Japanese city famous for its streets of tame deer, begins culling program within city

-- Deer in Nara Park outnumber visitors, display baffling summer gathering behaviour

-- Nara deer stampede into marathon, hit runner in their path

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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Sad for the deer. Can only imagine them thinking humans were safe almost like pets and then be shot. Where does the deer meat go? In the states deer jerkey was a staple for Midwest hunters in fall. Does Japan allow hunting in the fall before winter for deer? Wonder what the season is.

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

Oh dear!

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Japan has seen a recent rise in Lyme Disease which is mainly spread by tics that infest Deer and other animals. They are beautiful and fairly gentle animals but for public protection certain limits need to be instituted.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

My brother still reminds me of the time 20 years ago when he came to visit and I took him there after we had few in us, and I fed one of the deer my trifold brochure at Todaiji. He scarfed the whole thing down in like 10 seconds and just kept following me around everywhere after.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

@Captdingleheimer

https://japantoday.com/category/national/6-Nara-deer-deaths-attributed-to-plastic-in-stomachs-tourists-cautioned-to-feed-animals-properly

7 ( +8 / -1 )

My brother still reminds me of the time 20 years ago when he came to visit and I took him there after we had few in us, and I fed one of the deer my trifold brochure at Todaiji. He scarfed the whole thing down in like 10 seconds and just kept following me around everywhere after.

Cool story. Thanks for sharing.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

This is quite interesting in that Nara sells the idea of the deer being sacred and super special. While this idea is cute and may be sincerely believed by some, there is also a strong commercial angle in that the deer bring in loads of tourists and enable Nara locals to sell deer cookies and deer themed souvenirs to them. Outside the limited area of Nara Park though, deer are exactly the same problem they are in other parts of Japan.

Japanese people are happy to eat almost all living creatures, but "eat the sacred deer" might be pulling the curtain back a bit too far for mainstream people.

Given the commercial value of the deer, which must be huge, its disappointing that people cashing in off them can't fund a properly run deer sanctuary. It encourages cynical people like myself to think that they love their wallets more than the deer. If its like Kyoto, none of the temples will be paying tax.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

They should be properly sacrificed for their meat. I know many xyz whatever generations categories are there might be thinking pet rights and animal protection and such, but this is nature's way. It's much better they serve their purpose than being in small cages until they die.

Would you be upset if a lion hunt and eat them?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

When I was a middle school student, I went to Nara park and interacted with deer. When I gave deer snacks, they bowed to me as if they returned the favor to me.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

However, the Nara Prefectural government has been disappointed with what it’s seen in recent reviews of the facility, feeling that the animals are unhealthy and not sufficiently fed.

An understatement if there ever was.

Unhealthy and underfed means - filthy crowded faeces covered enclosures., rampant malnutrition, lifespans less than half of normal and many deaths. This was only 5 months ago.

This the care provided by the Nara Deer Preservation Foundation - an organization backed by the Prefectural govt - was so delinquent in it's duty of care while giving the image of spiritually caring for these scared animals.

Whatever the excuses were - financial, staffing, space etc - they cannot be accepted at all.

If the lives of the deer were truly respected this terrible situation would have never emerged.

The article's point about culling also reflects how the whole situation has been neglected for so long.

Hard to comprehend that the millions of visitors a year to Nara haven't been able to add to the funds required to maintain the health and "dignity of the sacred deer"!!!!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Castrate the male deer, or feed the females some birth prevention substance.?

Gotta be better than death.

In my area , deer and wild piggies used for food though.

Bear meat eaten in some other areas.

All free range and better than a caged chicken or even wagyu beef.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Good idea

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Since the only natural predator of the deer(Japanese wolf) was hunted to extinction by order of the government, the populations of both the deer and wild boar have gone unchecked. The decreasing numbers of licensed hunters has also contributed to over-populations. The hunting needs to be allowed to increase in order to allow the population of deer and boar to be healthier and to reduce the damage to agriculture and the forests.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

リッチToday  06:55 am JST

Sad for the deer. Can only imagine them thinking humans were safe almost like pets and then be shot. Where does the deer meat go? In the states deer jerkey was a staple for Midwest hunters in fall. Does Japan allow hunting in the fall before winter for deer? Wonder what the season is.

Google is your friend.

The deer hunting season in Japan runs from November 15, 2021, to February 15, 2022, except for Hokkaido which is October 1 to January 31 because of their early winter start.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@OssanAmerica

Might depend on the prefecture. Here in Nagano hunting goes until middle of March. As I love to roam the bear-free mountains in winter I always check with our town office about hunting areas beforehand bc they change from year to year

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We (wife, son, self) enjoyed seeing the deer at Todaiji last year . . . it is one of the few places . . . where people can come close to deer . . . grandfather had a ukiyo-e print of the temple with deer . . . so I guess the tradition of having deer co-exist goes back hundreds of years . . . .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Perhaps they should start branding venison as "Sacred Nara Venison" and put the proceeds towards something that contributed to society. Having too many deer running around bothering people and defecating all over the place is not really constructive. For such an insignificant part of Kansai, Nara sure is good at causing problems for the area.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Instead of killing them they can sell to us Muslims in Japan. There is huge demand of Halal local meat here.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This should be alright if it is decided by the wildlife conservationists, as they would weigh the pros & cons of culling the overpopulation of the deer in the area. Where natural predation is not doing its job, we have to take care of the situation. This is for the good of the deer poplution in future there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps the meat can be preserved and stored to be used for natural disasters.

Meat is a good source of protein and survivors really need protein for strength.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is what happens when wild animals are taken from their natural habitat and treated like pets. It upsets the balance of nature and the animals are the ones who suffer. Now how are they going to fix the mess they made? By killing them, of course. Humans are the worst.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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