Hot on the heels of news surrounding the death of eight elk just a couple of weeks ago, The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has reported that the very same cause of death is to blame for a herd of 50 pronghorn antelope.
That cause is a toxic shrub known as Japanese Yew, a common landscaping shrub that can come into contact with wildlife, typically in residential or populated areas. After Fish and Game staff was alerted to the carcasses on Tuesday, they gathered four of the bodies and transported them for testing at the Fish and Game Health Laboratory.
Veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew confirmed the case of death on Wednesday after evaluating the animals.
“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.”
The toxic plant is attractive to many large mammals including elk, antelope, horses and dogs, but the soft, waxy needles often prove fatal for wildlife.
“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.”
Much the same as they did after the elk deaths, Fish and Game officials are urging homeowners to inventory their property and remove and landfill or properly wrap any Japanese Yew that could be growing at their residence.