Toxic Landscaping Plant Blamed for Death of Five Wood River Elk
HAIELY, Idaho (KLIX)-Five elk were found dead in the Wood River Valley that had eaten a toxic plant used in landscaping that is banned in Blaine County. According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, a calf and two cows were found Tuesday near the Valley Club north of Hailey, while two more young elk were located dead on Wednesday, also north of Hailey. Conservation officers were able to determine the animals had eaten the highly toxic Japanese yew that is often used in landscaping.
In 2016 the Blaine County Commission banned the use and sale of the plant after several animals had died from eating the plant. However, the plant is still available in other parts of the state. Idaho Fish and Game said the plant is even toxic to domestic animals like cows, horses, and dogs among others. Conservation officers have not been able to locate the plants linked to the recent deaths. Regional Wildlife Manager Mike McDonald said in a prepared statement, “I realize that it’s hard to dig up mature landscaping but everyone needs to do the right thing for wildlife, and even to protect your pets, by removing plants like exotic yew. It takes a surprising small amount of yew to kill an elk, deer or moose, which are all species that residents can see throughout the valley, almost daily.” Residents who know they have the deadly plant are asked to remove it immediately or fence it off and cover it so animals cannot get to it until it can be removed.