KETCHUM, Idaho (KLIX)-Two more elk have died in the Wood River after eating an ornamental plant called Japanese yew. Idaho Fish and Game said the two animals were found dead in a Ketchum neighborhood and confirmed they had eaten the plant used for landscaping in the area. In 2016 Blaine County banned the use of the plant for landscaping in the Wood River Valley. The ordinance bans the use of, sale, and possession of several varieties of the toxic yew plant. So far this winter Idaho Fish and Game has documented four elk deaths and one moose because of yew. Last year more than 20 animals were died from eating the plant, according to Idaho Fish and Game.

Photo by Lynn Kinter, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Photo by Lynn Kinter, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
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Education Meeting on Japanese to be Held in Ketchum

Idaho Fish and Game continues to raise awareness in the Wood River Valley community of the deadly plant. The department asks residents to look for the plant on their properties and promptly remove them. If they can't remove it right away residents have been asked to fence it off or cover the plants until it can be properly removed. In and effort to educate people on ornamental yew the Fish and Game will host an information session on February 28, at the Ketchum Community Library. The session will be live-streamed as well for those who cannot attend in person, follow this LINK.

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Idaho Fish and Game to Work with Local Government to Spot Poisonous Yew Plant

Magic Valley Regional Spokesperson Terry Thompson said in an email that the department will be working with county and city partners in the Wood River Valley to train them to help spot yew within the community. So far the plants the two elk may have eaten from have not been located.  Thompson said the the deaths are attributed to deer, elk, and moose gathering around neighborhoods where yew is found. The animals are attracted to the the evergreen as they are trying to find food sources during the winter.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
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Ornamental Japanese Yew Very Poisonous

According to The Morton Arboretum, the Japanese yew is a popular evergreen shrub used as a foundation plant or background plant in landscaping. However, they do warn that the bark, leafs, berries, and seeds are poisonous. Idaho Fish and Game said a small amount of the evergreen, if ingested, can kill a large animal like an elk or moose. The plant is also deadly to household pets like cats and dogs.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
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