Herd of 50 antelope found dead in Payette, Idaho

Payette, Idaho. – 50 pronghorn antelope were found dead in the town of Payette, Idaho—the apparent victims of a toxic shrub.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said the pronghorn were reported early Tuesday afternoon. When conservation officers arrived, they found 50 dead antelope in one large group.

After an investigation into the cause of the deaths, it was confirmed the cause was due to the consumption of toxic 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.”

IDFW said frigid winter temperatures are driving big game animals to lower elevations where they’re more likely to encounter more urbanized areas with more diverse plant species—including toxic plants.

Japanese yew is a common landscaping shrub, and its soft waxy needles are deadly to a number of species, including humans.

The antelope deaths come less than a week after 30 pronghorn were killed while trying to cross Lake Wolcott in southern Idaho.

IDFW said eight elk died in the Boise foothills after feeding on Japanese yew plants roughly two weeks ago.

Officials with IDFW wrote, “Because of the risk to big game animals, the department urges homeowners to inventory their property and remove and landfill any Japanese yew that might be growing at their residence. Alternatively, the plants can be wrapped with burlap to prevent access by big game animals.”

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