We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale that poinsettias are fatal to pets, and while that may not be so, here is an exotic plant related problem that is sadly all too true.  Winter can be a cold bleak time where any hint of green is welcome, especially if it sports a cute little red berry.   Unfortunately, the exotic evergreen Japanese Yew plant is like Kryptonite to Idaho’s moose and other big game.

Japanese Yew is an attractive exotic ground covering shrub that has been around for decades.  Planted to decorate gardens in town, its rich green foliage and red berries perk up an otherwise monotonous winter moonscape.  As people have started to live further and further from town, surviving by telecommuting over the Internet, they brought their urban landscaping practices with them.  Unfortunately, when big game or livestock are involved, just a handful of Japanese Yew can be fatal.  So toxic, it’s able to quickly kill something as large as an adult moose.

Idaho Department of Fish & Game urges homeowners who live close to wintering moose and other big game to be sure they don’t have Japanese Yew planted by their homes or cabins.  In recent years local businesses have given out small Japanese Yew plants as Christmas gifts.  The hardy shrub planted in an urban setting poses little threat to big game, but in remote areas, it is a tantalizing morsel that moose and other wildlife are unable to avoid. For moose it is eye candy of the most deadly variety.  Whereas a wolf wouldn’t dream of taking on a healthy bull moose, Japanese Yew can kill any size moose that happens to be lured in by its delicious appearance.

Homeowners seeking to learn more about plants that are toxic to wildlife should contact their local University of Idaho Extension Office.

To view a short video clip about Japanese Yew and wildlife visit: http://www.littleurl.net/d3709e

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