Moose dies north of Ketchum after eating toxic yew plan

Yew continues to be found in Blaine County despite ordinances that prohibit the plant in many parts of the county.

Despite a 2016 Blaine County ordinance restricting the planting of noxious plants, including exotic yew, a bull moose was found dead in the backyard of a residence on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, after eating the toxic plant north of Ketchum. A field necropsy was conducted by a conservation officer who confirmed that the moose had consumed yew found in the backyard of the home. The officer also noted that he found the overall body condition of the moose, as measured by the amount of body fat, was good.

During the winter of 2021 – 2022 over 20 elk died as a result of eating ornamental yew throughout the Wood River Valley.

Several plant species are toxic to wildlife and pets, especially those in the yew family.

Residents should inspect the landscaping around their homes and remove all yew plants in an effort to keep wildlife and pets safe, especially during winter months when wildlife moves down into the historic winter range, now occupied by community neighborhoods and private residences.

Yew plants are evergreen, even in winter, which is thought to be the reason that reports of wildlife eating the plant seem to be more common during winter months.

Homeowners should completely remove any yew from their yards. If removal is not possible until spring, the bushes should be securely fenced so that wildlife cannot get access to the plants, or the plants should be tightly wrapped with burlap.

According to Regional Wildlife Manager Mike McDonald landowners need to be aware of the types of vegetation they purchase and plant on their properties. “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 surprisingly small amount of yew to kill an elk, deer or moose, which are all species that residents can see throughout the valley, almost daily.”