Idaho Fish and Game reports a herd of 50 pronghorn antelope have been found dead in the town of Payette, victims of the toxic shrub, Japanese yew.
The pronghorn were first brought to Fish and Game’s attention on January 17th. Officers found the 50 animals in one large scattered group later that day. What killed them was not immediately clear, so four of the carcasses were transported to the Fish and Game Health Laboratory for evaluation.
Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew confirmed the cause of death on Wednesday. “All four animals were in good body condition, but with congested lungs and kidneys,” Drew noted. “All had Japanese yew twigs and needles in their esophagus and rumen; cause of death was yew toxicity.”
“There are a number of residences along this route where they may have encountered the shrub,” Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said. “Like other big game species that graze on Japanese yew, they died quickly after ingesting the plant.”
Japanese Yew is a common landscaping shrub, despite the fact it’s needles are fatal if ingested to a variety of wildlife, including elk, moose, horses and dogs.
Because of the risk to big game animals, Fish and Game is urging homeowners to remove and dispose of any Japanese yew that might be growing at their home..
Two weeks ago, eight elk died in the Boise foothills after feeding on Japanese yew.