The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is blaming the deaths of a herd of 50 pronghorn antelope found dead in Payette on a toxic shrub.

The bodies of dozens of antelope were found along the Payette greenbelt Tuesday. Payette Police say most of the bodies were found lying close together.

Fish and Game officers and biologists were called in to determine how the animals died. Four carcasses were taken to the Fish and Game Health Laboratory for evaluation.

Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew confirmed the cause of death on Wednesday.

“All four animals were in good body condition, but with congested lungs and kidneys,” Drew noted. “All had Japanese Yew twigs and needles in their esophagus and rumen; cause of death was yew toxicity.”

Japanese yew shrub
Japanese yew shrub

The deaths come one day after about 30 antelope perished trying to cross the frozen Snake River Monday.

And two weeks ago, a group of eight elk died after feeding on Japanese Yew plants in the Boise foothills.

Japanese Yew is a common landscaping shrub. Eating its soft, waxy needles can be fatal to a variety of species including elk, moose, horses, dogs and even humans. Fish and Game urges homeowners to remove any Japanese Yew growing on their property and take it to the landfill.