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Yew Kills Two More Elk ahead of Yew Presentation
Saturday, February 25, 2023


Ornamental Japanese yew killed two more elk in the Warm Springs area of Ketchum this week.

The exact location of the plants has not been determined. Officers have conducted visual inspections of homes in the areas but they must follow trespass law and not enter private property if the resident is not available and permission not received.

Fortunately, Idaho Fish and Game officers are partnering with representatives of the local Wildlife Smart Communities organization on a presentation on how to identify and remove yew.

That presentation will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Ketchum’s Community Library.

Ornamental yew was outlawed in Blaine County in 2016. But, still, in the past two years at least 20 elk and two moose have died after eating yew.

“This is something that has a very simple fix—and that’s taking the plant off the landscape,” said Terry Thompson, communications specialist for Idaho Fish and Game. “Hopefully, the community presentation will provide more eyes in the community to help locate the plants so they can be removed. This problem will literally disappear if the plants disappear.”

Tuesday’s presentation will also address other human-wildlife issues, such as safety around mountain lions and moose, how to keep black bears from becoming food-conditioned by barring access to unsecured residential garbage and entanglements.

Idaho Fish and Game officers received four reports of elk in the Wood River Valley becoming entangled in wire tomato cages, a 5-gallon plastic bucket and a sled and rope in yards in Bellevue, Hailey, Ohio Gulch and East Fork earlier this month.

Over the past few years, wildlife has also become entangled in swing sets, hammocks, a dream catcher lawn decoration, tennis court net, Christmas lights, Christmas wreaths, clothesline, barbed wire, bailing twine, horse halter, lead rope and even the bottom of a bird feeder.

Residents are asked to inspect their yards and pastures for items that could entangle wildlife and remove them if possible. Tomato cages are particularly troublesome because deer, elk and moose will stick their heads into the wire cage to get at garden vegetation left from last summer’s garden.

The decision to use anesthetizing drugs to immobilize an animal to remove an object is never easy as the drugs are extremely powerful and can be deadly to the animal, said Thompson. In addition, darting can be stressful to an animals and the animal may run across a busy highway or into a river before the drugs can take effect.

Those who wish to attend Tuesday’s presentation in person can reserve a seat at The presentation will also be livestreamed and available to watch later at

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