NARA, JAPAN — A herd of sacred deer in a small city in Japan are being forcibly removed from the area after local farmers have complained they are destroying fields of crops.
The sika deer have roamed Nara, Japan for decades, their population explosion igniting roughly a century ago when their main predator, the local wolf, went extinct. An estimated 1,200 of them have clustered in the city's central park region. Tourists are known to frequent the area to feed the deer crackers, and many of the creatures have been made famous on social media for their willingness to bow for food.
As the deer have multiplied, they've been spilling over into fields, consuming crops and angering farmers, causing an annual $54 million in damage, according to the BBC. The notion of a cull was quickly dismissed, with the animal classified as a national treasure, protected by law. Instead, humane traps will be set for the relocation of 120 of them by March 2018.
In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun, a local government official was quoted as saying "We want to continue efforts to coexist in peace while preventing damage to crops."