Wyoming Wildlife Crossings Saving Money and Wildlife
Driving in Wyoming, chances are you’ve encountered an animal…with your vehicle. If you’re lucky enough, the deer, antelope, or elk stay on the side of the road; sometimes they might even jump over your vehicle, clearing it.
But, that’s generally not the case. Each year in Wyoming, there are over 6,000 vehicle collisions with big game wildlife on our roads. These collisions average $24-29 million in personal injury costs, and $20-23 million in wildlife costs (The Wyldlife Fund). A project on the western side was just completed to hopefully detour animals and alleviate collisions.
One of the most impacted roadways in the state is U.S. Highway 189. In Wyoming, it runs north from just east of Evanston to north of Big Piney. According to Wyoming Game and Fish, data gathered from the Wyoming Department of Transportation shows an average of 68 animal carcasses were picked up by maintenance crews from 2018-2020.
WGF and WYDOT completed the Dry Piney Wildlife Crossing project. WGF said big game animals–primarily mule deer and pronghorn–are actively using the underpasses. The project includes nine underpasses and 17 miles of eight-foot-tall fencing on both sides of the highway.
The public is invited to a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 10 a.m.
Wyoming Game and Fish said the project cost a total of $15.1 million and was “supported by the federal BUILD grant, Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and Wyoming Transportation Commission. Other supporters include the public, Sublette County, conservation organizations, private donors, and landowners.”
The state has identified 240 projects to reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions. WGF said underpasses are proven to reduce these collisions:
- Seven underpasses and 8-foot-high fencing along a 13.5-mile stretch of Wyoming Highway 30 west of Kemmerer resulted in an 81% reduction in deer-vehicle collisions after three years.
- Another project on U.S. Highway 191 near Pinedale with underpasses, fencing, and two overpasses eliminated pronghorn collisions after three years, and mule deer collisions dropped by 79%.
Dowlin Ditch Project
Gallery Credit: Nicole Sherwood