Landscaping Shrub Leads to 50 Antelope Deaths in Idaho

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.

RELATED: Massive Antelope Die-Off Explained 

“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