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Idaho Back Roads: Toxic plant killing wildlife

Deer poisoned by Japanese yew
Posted: 7:27 AM, Dec 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-28 14:27:30Z
Japanese Yew killing local wildlife

An ornamental plant called Japanese yew may be attractive, but once again this year it is killing wildlife in idaho. At least two deer have been found dead in the gem state with the highly toxic plant in their stomachs.

"It's very attractive and it's green and it's beautiful, and that's one of the reasons people plant it," said IDFG Deer and Elk Coordinator Daryl Meints. "But unfortunately it's very toxic to wildlife."

Meints says he receives reports every year about deer and elk being poisoned by the plant, and awareness about Japanese yew hit a peak during the harsh winter two years ago. Dozens of animals desperate for food died from eating the shrub, including more than fifty pronghorn antelope near Payette.

"And it doesn't take much," said Meints. "A few mouthfuls, and they don't survive very long. Essentially they have a heart attack."

If you live in a rural area, and have Japanese yew in your yard, biologists ask that you consider removing it, or cover it up during winter to protect hungry animals.

Meints says if you live where wildlife roam and you don't have japanese yew in your landscaping, it's best to pick another species to keep wildlife safe.