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Japanese railroad shelves lion dung test

(The Associated Press circulated the following story on August 20.)

TOKYO -- A railroad in rural Japan that successfully used lion dung as a repellant to keep wild deer from straying onto the tracks has found the experiment a tad too repelling.

Trains used to hit some 10 deer a month along a track in western Wakayama state. Then the West Japan Railway Co. spread lion dung along a line.

A safari park supplied the dung, which was mixed with water, and spread along a 1,320-foot stretch of track late last year.

Forestry researchers believed fear of the king of the jungle would keep the deer away.

Not one deer has been run over since, said Toshihiko Iwata, a spokesman for the railroad's Wakayama branch on Tuesday.

But success doesn't smell that sweet.

"It was very labor-intensive and the track really did stink," Iwata said. "We're experimenting with more environmentally friendly methods now."

Since hunters believe deer have an aversion to the color white, the railroad is testing sheets of shiny plastic foam as an alternative.

Plastic foam is hard only on the eyes, he said.

Friday, August 22, 2003

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