Acute yew (Taxus) poisoning in moose (Alces alces)

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Abstract

Acute yew (Taxus) intoxication in a free-ranging moose (Alces alces) is reported. The moose was found dead without any signs of struggle and post mortem examination revealed general congestion, bilateral heart dilatation, and the presence of yew in rumen. The animal was found adjacent to a housing estate with unfenced gardens, surrounded by woods and open fields without native yew. The vast majority of the gardens contained cultivars of yew that had frequently been browsed upon. These were the most likely source of intoxication. This is believed to be the first report of yew intoxication in a wild animal species. It is concluded that yew intoxication may be an overlooked diagnosis in wild deer, and the general opinion that deer species are naturally resistant to many plant-associated toxins is discussed.

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