Yew Education

YewOrnamental yew plants are prohibited in Blaine County.

On February 23rd the Board of County Commissions unanimously passed County ordinance number 2016-01, declaring certain plant species as County noxious weeds, prohibiting the sale, planting, and possession of any plant on the County noxious weed list, and providing penalties for violations.

Plants included on the County noxious weed list include Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata), European or English Yew (Taxus baccata), and Chinese Yew (Taxus chinensis) and their hybrids. The ordinance is effective as of March 2, 2016.

Ordinance Response

The ordinance is a response to the fact that during the winter of 2015 and 2016 foraging wildlife consumed toxic yew plants in residential areas, which has led to the death of at least twenty elk throughout Blaine County, as confirmed by experts at Idaho Fish and Game Department.

The Board of Blaine County Commissioners finds that toxic yew plants pose an imminent danger of injury to wildlife and a more broad danger to pets and livestock. Therefore, eradicating toxic yew plants from residential areas will promote the public health, safety, and welfare.

The Ohio Gulch Transfer Station accepts yew debris free of charge, but the yew must be separate from other yard debris. Please note proper removal includes all traces, no matter how small, of the plant.

What is the County doing about yew?

There is an ordinance banning the planting and selling of yew in unincorporated Blaine County, the City of Hailey, and the City of Ketchum. Since yew is not on the State of Idaho's noxious weeds list, the Blaine County Noxious Weeds department does not have jurisdiction in individual cities within Blaine County. We are still responding to calls about poisoned animals and reaching out to homeowners for permission to inspect their properties. A full list of the work that Blaine County is doing can be seen below.

    • Worked with Fish and Game on developing a brochure specific to Blaine County to hand out to residents and have available in nurseries and other businesses.
    • Weekly social media posts educating the community on yew and how to identify it.
    • Working with property owners and businesses with confirmed yew to have it removed.
    • Organizing a town hall to answer community members questions, and to inform them of the work being done.
    • Added yew to the noxious weeds reporting site, for public use.
    • Sent letters to landscaping companies in Blaine County and Twin Falls to inform them of the toxicity of yew and the local ordinances.
    • Reached out to local HOAs with phone calls and letters informing them of the toxicity of Yew and the Blaine County Ordinance, and asking them to reach out to their residence regarding the issue.
    • Mailed the houses surrounding the areas where poisoned animals were found to inform them of the yew plant and asking them to check their properties.
    • Met with the Valley Club and discussed precautions they are taking and the regulations they have.
    • Performed site visits at the Valley Club, Elkhorn area, Bigwood Golf Course area, and Hailey where poisoned animals have been found. Identified yew plants in a few of the areas.
    • Working with the cities that do not have a yew ordinance to help them with education and encouraging them to consider an ordinance. (Blaine County does not have jurisdiction over the cities).
    • Toured areas where poisoned animals were found with Fish and Game and their Botanist to try to find unidentified plants, and to learn more about the yew plant. 
    • Put together educational materials for landscaping companies to help them know how to identify yew.
    • Put together a webinar to teach the community about yew and how to identify it.

Contact Information

For questions regarding the yew plant please contact the Blaine County Noxious Weeds department at kdraper@co.blaine.id.us or 208-727-7221.

For questions regarding education and how to get involved please contact the Administrative Services Manager at scarlson@co.blaine.id.us or 208-721-1591.

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