9 deer at famed park in Japan die after eating plastic bags

A volunteer picks up plastic products during a cleanup campaign at a famed park in Nara, western Japan, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Nine deer at the park have died recently after swallowing plastic bags. Nara Park has more than 1,000 deer and tourists can feed them special sugar-free crackers sold in shops nearby. The crackers don’t come in plastic bags, but people still carry them. A veterinarian says the deer may associate the plastic with food. (Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Nine deer at a famed park in western Japan have died recently after swallowing plastic bags.

Nara Park has more than 1,000 deer and tourists can feed them special sugar-free crackers sold in shops nearby. The crackers don't come in plastic bags, but people still carry them. A veterinarian says the deer may associate the plastic with food.

The Nara Deer Preservation Foundation says nine of the 14 deer that have died since March had plastic in their stomachs. Masses of tangled plastic litter and packets of snacks were retrieved from their stomachs.

Veterinarian Rie Maruko told Kyodo News the dead deer were so skinny he could feel their bones.

Deer have four-chambered stomachs. If they can't digest what they eat, they can die from malnutrition and weakened immune systems.

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