Animals can have as much difficulty identifying edible plants as much as humans. In the Boise, Idaho foothills a herd of 50 pronghorn antelope met untimely deaths after consuming a shrub used in residential landscaping.
Wildlife officials believe the antelope encountered the shrubs known as Japanese Yew along a stretch of the Snake River that passes by several residences. While the shrub is a popular in landscaping, it’s fatally toxic to animals.
A necropsy by Fish and Game wild veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew confirmed the leaves and branches were found in their digestive tract.
“All four animals were in good body condition, but with congested lungs and kidneys,” Drew noted according to a press release. “All had Japanese yew twigs and needles in their esophagus and rumen; cause of death was yew toxicity.”
It was quite the scene when a local resident discovered 50 pronghorn antelope scattered dead in a large group, like the scene of a mass murder.
Officials warned the public about this extremely toxic shrub, advising to inventory their properties and either remove it or cover it in burlap.
“There are a number of residences along this route where they may have encountered the shrub,” Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said in a press release. “Like other big game species that graze on Japanese yew, they died quickly after ingesting the plant.”
Photo credit: Idaho Department of Fish and Game