NARA - One of the many deer in the city of Nara has been found with a makeshift dart lodged in its neck, local authorities said Wednesday, prompting police to launch an investigation.
The roughly 4-year-old, 36-kilogram doe appears to have suffered only a minor injury and has been taken in by a deer protection group.
It was found near the Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara Park with pencil lead wrapped in paper protruding from the left side of its neck, according to the Nara Prefectural Government.
The city is home to around 1,500 deer, which roam freely in and around the park and are a major tourist draw.
Considered to be messengers of the gods in Shinto, they are designated as a “natural monument” and harming them can lead to penalties for violating a law on the protection of cultural properties.
The injured deer appeared to be in good condition after being treated by the Foundation for the Protection of Deer in Nara and could be released Thursday, a Nara official said.