Alaska officials say moose calves died from poisonous plant

The moose pictured here were not the ones poisoned. (Thinkstock Photo)

ANCHORAGE — Two moose calves found dead in Anchorage last week likely died from eating poisonous plants, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said.


Executive Director of the Alaska Moose Federation Don Dyer said he believes the calves ate from a Chokecherry tree, which are poisonous to moose.

Dyer and other officials went to pick up the calves on Friday and found them to have an abnormal odor and foam in their nostrils — symptoms indicative of cyanide poisoning.

“Some plants have cyanide in them like Japanese Yew and Chokecherry and other things that we plant to make our houses look good but unfortunately it poisons moose pretty quickly,” Dyer said.

About a dozen Anchorage moose die this way every year, with mostly calves being the victims, Dyer said.

“If you have those types of toxic plants, don’t put them in the yard in the first place and maybe replace them with something else,” Dyer said. “That would be really helpful because there’s a good number of moose calves that get killed from this every year in the Anchorage bowl.”

Horticulturist Steph Daniels said Chokecherry is sold at some Anchorage nurseries and is common in many lawns across town.

“When they’re very, very hungry, we know from experience and from talking to our customers, moose will try anything,” Daniels said. “They will taste test and chew up anything at least once.”

A similar plant, European bird cherry or Mayday trees, were banned by the Anchorage Assembly earlier this year because they are invasive and poisonous to moose.


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