NARA, Japan — A wildlife foundation in Japan said nine deer have died in the past four months after eating plastic bags, food wrappers and other human rubbish.

One animal had more than nine pounds of garbage in its stomach, the BBC reported.

Nara is a popular spot for tourists to Japan and is home to more than 1,200 Sika deer. These deer are considered a national treasure and are protected by law.

Japan Today said the deer's habit of eating plastic probably comes from humans feeding the deer food from those packages. A veterinarian with the Nara Deer Preservation Foundation said deer have learned food comes from those plastic bags or are tempted by the smell coming from the garbage.

The news outlet said tourists are allowed to feed the deer with special deer crackers or "shika sembei" that are sold in nearby shops. Those crackers don't use plastic wrapping.

The foundation said it believes the deer may have died from malnutrition after their stomachs were blocked with masses of plastic. The foundation shared a photo of a large mass of plastic bags found inside one of the dead deer.

The BBC said the Nara prefecture's government will investigate the deer deaths and set up signs in the park to warn tourists about feeding the animals food that hasn't been approved.

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