PAYETTE, Idaho (KLIX) Idaho wild game officials are blaming Japanese yew for the death of a herd of pronghorn antelope near Payette on Tuesday.  Only two weeks ago elk were killed by the same decorative plant according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The dead pronghorn were found in one large scattered group on the 17th after being reported by citizens. At the time the cause of death was not known, four of the animals carcasses were taken for laboratory testing.

Dr. Mark Drew, with Fish and Game, confirmed the pronghorn were killed by Japanese yew "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.”

Pronghorn killed by eating Japanese yew in western Idaho. Photo by Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Fish and Game officials say there is a large number of the big game near Payette and could have come in contact with the poisonous plant "  “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.”

The common landscaping shrub's needles are fatal to many animals including elk, moose, horses, dogs and even humans. Fish and Game says big game animals are beginning to move into more urban areas where they may encounter the plant. Homeowners are being encouraged to remove the plant and dispose of it in a landfill. People can also cover the plant with burlap to prevent animals from getting to it. Some communities, like the Wood River Valley, have banned Japanese yew.