Want to stay up to date on important issues in Harris Ranch? Join the HRWMA E-Newsletter mailing list to receive our quarterly newsletter and notices of special concern. CLICK HERE: mailto:info@hrwma.org

   Picture: Idaho Bird Observatory - Black-Capped Chickadee and Mountain Chickadee

Local Landscaping Causing Death of Wildlife -
Japanese Yew Bushes are Toxic – Please Remove and Dispose or Cover Securely

In the last few weeks numerous elk, deer and antelope have died from ingesting Japanese yew plants from residential landscapes. With a heavy winter snowfalls and fires in the foothills, elk, deer and other ungulates are ranging into residential areas looking for food in and near the foothills and along the Boise River and Green Belt areas.  Japanese yew is extremely toxic to wildlife, pets and humans alike. Animals can die after eating a small number of needles.
Please look through your landscaping to see if you have Japanese yew bushes. If you have Japanese yew bushes in your yard’s landscaping please consider removing and disposing of them. If you cannot remove the Japanese yew bushes, please fully wrap and cover your Japanese yew with heavy burlap and monitor the bushes to be sure that elk and deer have not torn through the burlap until spring, when natural food sources are available. 

Local and regional elk, mule deer and antelope deaths
from eating Japanese Yew bushes in recent weeks:

- 8 elk in the Boise Foothills
- 6 mule deer off highland Road, Warms Springs area (reported to HRWMA                this week)
- 1 mule deer in Bown Crossing (reported to HRWMA this week)
- 50 antelope near Payette, Idaho
- 8 elk near Idaho Falls, Idaho, Rimrock area

News Articles:
Burlap Roll - Availability:
- Home Depot –  3639 E Federal Way, Boise
(208) 388-8500 - Call ahead for in-store pick-up – Sku Number 346678
3-Foot x 24-Foot rolls - $10.27/roll (40 rolls currently in stock)

- Home Depot – 1200 Milwaukee Street, Boise
(208) 375-1186 - Call ahead for in-store pick-up – Sku Number 346678
3-Foot x 24-Foot rolls - $10.27/roll (31 rolls currently in stock)
- Thriftway Home Center – Ace True Value - 4705 W. State St., Boise (208) 342-1668
No burlap but 9-foot x 12-foot 10oz canvas painter’s drop clothes available, $27.99/each
- Thriftway Home Center – Ace True Value - 2050 Broadway Ave., Boise (208) 336-7330
No burlap but 9-foot x 12-foot 10oz canvas painter’s drop clothes available, $27.99/each
- Lowes, Boise – No burlap in stock until spring – canvas painter’s drop clothes available
- D & B Supply Store, Garden City – No burlap in stock until spring

Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) is an evergreen-shrub with soft  green needles. Pictures clockwise from top left:
1) Yew needles can rotate around branch or be flat. 2) New growth is lighter.
3)Yew only have red berries if the plant is female. 4) Male plants have small yellow pollen cones under branches. 5)Needles are darker green top and  paler green underside. 

  Photos by Colleen Fellows
  University of Connecticut

  N e w
 l a y e r
Top of yew needles are darker and underside are lighter.

"Bringing Back the Foothills"
by Glenn Oakley

Learn how the Harris Ranch Wildlife Mitigation Association, Harris Ranch residents and area volunteers are helping to restore native vegetation for wildlife and to reduce fuels in the Boise Foothills. This video documents the conditions before and after the 2016 Table Rock Wildfire.

BITTERBRUSH—A Key Component of Habitat in the Boise Foothills

The recent Table Rock Wildfire reminds us of the importance of the Foothills as habitat for wildlife species and the susceptibility of these important wildlife areas to human-caused wildfires.  One of the most important wildlife habitat plants in the foothills is bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), a native shrub that was once common across the hills north of Boise. 

It is easily recognized as mature plants can reach heights of 6 to 15 ft tall with a width of 4 to 6 ft.  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.

Figure 1- Bitterbrush with native sagebrush (light gray ) in lower left potion of the photo.

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. It can be restored after wildfires by planting seeds or more commonly by planting seedlings (one-year old plants grown at a nursery).  Where feasible, it is important to also restore native vegetation associated with bitterbrush in order to improve the habitat for all wildlife species. The loss of wildlife habitat associated with the Table Rock fire will stress wildlife species in the Boise Foothills for years to come and potentially increase mule deer and other wildlife species on roads and in subdivisions near the fire this winter.

You can help restore foothills habitat by collecting bitterbrush seeds this fall or planting bitterbrush seedlings next year for Idaho Fish and Game (https://ec.volunteernow.com/custom/1373/), City of Boise (sarkle@cityofboise.org), and Harris Ranch Wildlife Mitigation Association (info@HRWMA.org).  More information on native and nonnative plants in the Boise Foothills can be found in a field guide available at local BLM offices, D&B Supply on Glenwood, or online at www.healthyhills.org.

Mike Pellant, Ecologist and Supervisor for the Ada Soil and Water Conservation District

Boise Fire Update: The popular Homestead Trail - part of the Boise River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) - is once again open for use by foothills recreationists. The trail was closed after the Table Rock wildfire roared through the area, burning more than 2,500 acres, and nearly 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat on the WMA. 


Wildlife and Harris Ranch

Harris Ranch continues to grow and has become a thriving community. It is thriving for humans, and also for wildlife. The lands surrounding Harris Ranch are an important home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Our mission is to preserve this habitat. In the past, wildlife used Harris Ranch as a migration corridor and as their home. These same animals still call the surrounding lands home.

Along with our vibrant wildlife, surrounding lands are also home to a rich variety of flora.  Some plants are unique to these lands and preserving them is vital to the continued survival of wildlife. 

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 Foothills.

Conservation Education Events

    • 06/08/2017
    • 07/29/2018
    • 6 sessions
    • Near Intersection of Highway 21 and Warm Springs Ave.

    Boise River Songbird BandingFree Event, Space Limited, Get Ticket at link Below
    Date: Pick your Date: June 8th, June 18th, June 29th, July 8th, July 22nd, July 29th
    Time: 6:40 am to 11:30 am
    Location: Near Intersection of Highway 21 & Warm Springs Ave
    Join the Intermountain Bird Observatory Crew for a morning of songbird banding at our beautiful Boise River Site near the intersection of Warm Springs Ave. & Highway 21! We'll catch, band & release wild songbirds all forming as par of our standardized breeding season monitoring.
    Please register for FREE tickets on eventbrite & to get more details about this event. You do not need to attend all of the dates.
    Click Here to Get Your Tickets:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/boise-river-songbird-banding-tickets-33228239559

    Location: The Boise River Intermountain Bird Observatory is located near the intersection of Warm Springs Avenue and the Highway 21 bridge, on the north side of the river, starting near the Diversion Dam and continuing over 1 mile downstream. The banding station is located on the south end of the property just upstream of the highway 21 bridge.


    Directions to the banding station:

    Approaching from Warm Springs Ave: From where Warm Springs Ave makes a T with Highway 21, drive straight across highway 21 (heading southwest) onto the gravel access road. Drive down toward the greenbelt (past chain link fenced area and “no access” signs) to reach the parking area. 

    Cars may park in the gravel parking area by the old dam turbine (red star on the map). Walk across the greenbelt and around the gates (there will be a “bird banding today” sign). Follow the access road (orange on the map) down to the banding station (marked in purple). If parking is full, use the overflow parking area off of Warm Springs Ave. marked in green. Walk down the greenbelt to the orange access road.

    • There is Poison Ivy here! Please stay on trails until you have talked to IBO staff about the location of poison ivy patches.
    • There are no restrooms on site. The nearest facilities are a 4 minute drive from the site, at Discovery State Park. We recommend a visit to Discovery before you come to see us :)
    • This site is handicap accessible (vehicle access to banding station). Email us for more information: IBO@boisestate.edu


    • 10/01/2017
    • 04/30/2018

    Online Sign - up 

    Start Learning about the program and sign up early so you do not miss out!

    Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

    Anyone interested in birds can participate. FeederWatch is conducted by people of all skill levels and backgrounds, including children, families, individuals, classrooms, retired persons, youth groups, nature centers, and bird clubs. You can count birds as often as every week, or as infrequently as you like: the schedule is completely flexible. All you need is a bird feeder, bird bath, or plantings that attract birds.

    New participants are sent a Research Kit with complete instructions for participating, as well as a bird identification poster and more. You provide the feeder(s) and seed. Then each fall participants receive our 16-page, year-end report, Winter Bird Highlights. Participants also receive access to the digital version of Living Bird, the Cornell Lab’s award-winning, quarterly magazine.

    There is a $18 annual participation fee for U.S. residents ($15 for Cornell Lab members). Canadians can participate by joining Bird Studies Canada for CAN$35. The participation fee covers materials, staff support, web design, data analysis, and the year-end report (Winter Bird Highlights). Project FeederWatch is supported almost entirely by participation fees. Without the support of our participants, this project wouldn’t be possible.

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. 

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  Harris Ranch Wildlife Mitigation Association

   PO Box 1949
   Boise, ID 83701
   (208) 515-7413

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