Three moose have died this year in Anchorage due to cyanide poisoning after eating from the European bird cherry tree, also known as Mayday and chokecherry, wildlife officials say.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says two calves died in January and a third in February after eating recently frozen buds, branches and berries from the trees. The third moose also ate Japanese yew.
The scientific name for the European bird cherry is prunus padus. Two other types of prunus pervasive in Anchorage, the Canada Red and Amur chokecherries, also have the potential to be poisonous to moose, the department said.
European bird cherry is a deciduous tree that grows 15 to 30 feet high and blooms with fragrant white flowers in late spring or summer. The fruit is a black cherry sought by birds, often attracting flocks of Bohemian waxwings after snow has covered other plants.
Chokecherry trees are dominant along many streams in Anchorage and they can be toxic to animals with segmented stomachs, such as moose, cattle, goats and deer.
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