Local landscape cultivar kill wildlife Japanese Yews are Toxic Remove & Dispose Or Cover Securely
Last winter a combined one hundred one elk, deer and antelope died from ingesting, Japanese Yews located in residential landscapes. Heavy snowfalls, extensive freezing temperatures and fire damaged habitat drove elk deer and antelope to seek shelter in lower elevations along the Boise River Corridor.
The river corridor once winter range for wildlife is now populated with residential development. Unfortunately before last winter, and to the detriment of wildlife, most homeowners were unaware that the Japanese Yew was toxic. Following the wildlife deaths many homeowners took prudent steps and removed any Japanese Yew from landscaping to prevent poisoning. During winter months the plant holds the highest concentration of toxicity and most mammals can die from ingesting only a small amount of needles.
Kindly check your yard for Japanese Yew and related varieties of the species. If you have Japanese Yew in your yard please consider immediate removal and replacement with non-toxic plants. If you cannot remove the Japanese yew before winter arrives please fully wrap and completely cover the Japanese yew with heavy burlap securing wrap to the ground level. Monitor the plant wrapping daily to be certain that wildlife have not torn through the burlap during the winter months, when food sources are scarce. See available video to help you identify Japanese Yew.
... Video to the right
Blaine County Public Outreach Flyer after county ban on Japanese Yew
BURLAP WRAPPING AVAILABILITY
101 Idaho elk, mule deer and antelope deaths from eating Japanese Yew
to identify Japanese Yew & relatives
MORE PICTURES BELOW HELP HOMEOWNERS IDENTIFY JAPANESE YEW (Taxus cuspidata)
Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata) is a non-native cultivar evergreen plant with flat rather than the round leaves of other conifers. Dubbed the "tree of death" by Cornell University, all species of Taxus are toxic. The newer growth is pale green in color typically found on the underside. The red berry belongs to female plants whose seed is poisonous when broken. Deer shown below in a natural winter habitat reveals a stark contrast in comparison with the landscaped cultivar of yews. Wildlife fatalities that occurred from consumption of the toxic plant last winter raised public awareness to an all time high and changed Idaho consumer buying patterns.
Watch this video of before and after conditions of the 2016 Table Rock Wildfire.
The 2016 summer wildfire that burned Table Rock and the Boise River Wildlife Management Area (BRWMA) was a dynamic force that change the face of the foothills. The foothills are home to residential deer and elk that migrate to the lower elevations of the BRWMA for winter. The BRWMA provides winter range for migration herds as well as habitat for a variety of wildlife year round. While the fire resulted in the loss of habitat, there is opportunity to re-establish foundation plantings and ward off proliferation of cheat grass. To restore a healthful foothills habitat requires volunteer work for many years to come. Please consider joining ecologist, Mike Pellant and other volunteers gathering sagebrush seeds this year. You can be part of a legacy working to restore foothills habitat. Day trips for seed harvest are determined by weather and are slated for December 9th. Please register to volunteer: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAGEBRUSH (Artemisia tridentata) one of two main foundation plantings for habitat in the Boise Foothills
Sagebrush is a native shrub and a primary food source that serves as a foundation for wildlife habitat. Although sagebrush provides winter nutrition for deer and elk, the desert sage grouse relies almost exclusively on the shrub for food year round. These desert shrubs commonly reach maturity between 2 and 4 feet tall, but heights can be found taller in areas with high level of precipitation. Aromatic blooms comes in late summer or early fall, and the foothills are dappled with the conspicuous golden yellow flower. Sagebrush is defined by a sharp odor, especially after rain. Or get a whiff up close when the leaves are crushed and rubbed between your fingers. The deep taproot makes the sagebrush capable of drought tolerance, and the gnarl twisted trunks indicate endurance. As tough as the sagebrush look the shrub requires help re-establishing after fire. Re- growth is often problematic in the rising heat of the desert without adequate rainfall. It is estimated that 50% of the sagebrush steppe has diminished over the last fifty years and volunteer effort to re-establish plantings is an essential step to minimize the impact of the table rock fire on local wildlife habitat.
BITTERBRUSH (Purshia tridentata) another foundation planting for habitat in the Boise Foothills
Bitterbrush like sage brush is another staple food source for wildlife and the other foundation shrub of the foothills. Another native to the steppe, this shrub was once quite common across the Boise foothills. It is easily recognized by its broad reaching branches. Mature bitterbrush can have heights of 6 to 15 feet tall with a width of 4 to 6 feet. It produces fragrant, small, bright yellow flowers in the spring. Top sides of the three lobed leaves are bright to olive green and the undersides are whitish colored due to soft white hairs. Bitterbrush packs a lot of nutrition with a high protein content during the winter months. This makes it the “go to” plant for mule deer when snow covers other native food sources. Deer more delicate in statue than elk are unable to successfully dig into the snow and find food source as readily, and rely heavily on bitterbrush for winter forage.
EXTRA SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS for WILDLIFE & PLANTS From HARRIS RANCH HOMEOWNERS
In an effort to ensure the survival of flora and fauna, the HRWMA encourages people to respect this important habitat. When hiking in the Foothills or along the Boise River, stay on designated trails to avoid interaction with wildlife and to protect plants. Please keep this in mind as you enjoy the Boise foothills.
TRAIL INFO & TIPS:The popular Homestead Trail - part of the Boise River Wildlife Management Area (BRWMA) - is once again open for careful use by foothills recreationists. The trail was closed for some time after the 2016 Table Rock wildfire burned more than 2,500 acres, and another 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat on the BRWMA. Be aware that due to damaged habitat, winter closure may very well occur on the BRWMA for wildlife protection. To afford the greatest protection for wildlife in any season, always have dogs leashed. Dogs chasing wildlife is a known cause of wildlife mortality particularly in winter. Please be mindful and honor the sacred beauty of wildlife in our community.
Harris Ranch Wildlife Mitigation Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created to implement the Harris Ranch Wildlife Impact Assessment and Management Plan, which prescribes actions to avoid and reduce adverse impacts to wildlife associated with development.