• Kyodo

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Employees of West Japan Railway Co. may have found a perfect solution to deter wild deer from getting near railroad tracks and triggering train accidents.

The JR West Wakayama office discovered lion excrement does the trick after it spread 40 kg of it in diluted form on a 400-meter stretch of the JR Kisei Line, a 200-km line that connects the city of Wakayama with Shingu in eastern Wakayama Prefecture.

Railway officials believe excrement of the king of beasts instills the most fear in other animals down the food chain.

The 400-meter section between Susami and Wakuba stations has been plagued by train accidents involving deer, but there have been no new incidents along that stretch in the more than three months since the carrier began spraying lion dung mixed with water.

Accidents involving deer on the line took off starting around 1996. Before then, less than 20 were reported each year. But by last year the number was up to 202, even though there has been no clear explanation for the surge.

The accidents not only led to delays and even cancellations of train services, but railway employees had to spend time and money disposing of deer carcasses.

JR West Wakayama officials said they tried many methods to deter the deer from getting near the tracks.

They even installed so-called deer whistles on trains that emit frequencies that agitate deer. Then they lined the tracks with sticks treated with deer-repellent chemicals and human hair, which is supposed to ward off the animals.

But none of these did the trick.

The breakthrough came last May when a JR West Wakayama employee ran across a newspaper article about research conducted by a forestry institute in Tokushima Prefecture. The study found that carnivore dung can be effective in keeping deer from damaging forestry products.

The Wakayama office got hold of lion excrement from the Adventure World leisure park in the hot springs resort town of Shirahama in southern Wakayama Prefecture. They said they plan to test the dung along other sections as well.

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