Nine deer were found with several pounds of plastic bags in their stomachs.
The deer were found in Nara Park, a sanctuary in Nara, Japan. Sika deer, which are native to Eastern Asia, are considered sacred in Japan. There are more than 1,000 sika deer in Nara Park and 14 have been found dead in the sanctuary over the last five months. Of those, nine were found with several pounds of plastic in their stomachs. Three even appeared to have died as a direct result of consuming the plastic.
The sanctuary posted a photo of the plastic in one deer’s stomach, which weighed seven pounds in total. The sanctuary says it advises tourists not to leave plastic bags in the park because animals can smell the remnants of food. They often eat the bag as a result. But the park still finds plastic litter around the area.
More than 100 people came to the sanctuary to pick up trash, to help prevent future deaths. The collection efforts in one day totaled 116 pounds of trash, 70 pounds of which were plastic.
“The amount of plastic garbage we collected was over our expectation,” Nara Deer Preservation Foundation Secretary General Yoshitaka Ashimura stated. “We are concerned that a mere clean up won’t solve the issue.”