The deer of Japan’s Miyajima Island are quite tame – they freely roam the city’s streets and almost entirely depend on humans for food. For several years, they survived purely on the crackers and other food that tourists fed them. But in a bid to reduce their population, the government decided to ban the feeding of the deer. And now the poor animals are almost starving to death.
At one point, these small, red-brown deer were revered and worshipped by the locals. After WWII, when the number of deer had reduced greatly, people decided to invite them out of the wild and offer them food. Slowly, the deer became an international tourist attraction – people arrived by the thousands to see the tame deer of Miyajima. And of course, they wanted to feed the animals themselves. Several vendors sold rice crackers that the tourists could feed to the deer.
During this time, many reports suggested that the deer still had wild tendencies. Sign boards warned tourists that teasing the deer or getting to close to them could lead to injury. Not too long ago, a tourist blogged about her experience feeding the creatures – when her friend couldn’t get the crackers out of the packet soon enough, a deer attacked her and bit her on the knee. The girl retaliated by slapping the offender’s nose and managed to infuriate the locals, as the deer are sacred and should not be harmed.