NEW GRANT FOR WYOMING WILDLIFE CROSSING PROJECT – A $14.5 Million grant has been awarded to the Wyoming Department of Transportation for a wildlife crossing project in the south western part of the state. The grant will provide underpass, deer proof fencing, and additional improvements along a 19-mile stretch of US 189 between La Barge and Big Piney, Wyoming.
Wildlife crossing projects have been ongoing initiatives throughout the state of Wyoming. Their goal is ensuring the safety of motorists while protecting iconic wildlife migration routes. Wildlife crossing projects have provided countless underpasses and deer-proof fencing throughout the state. Resulting in significant reductions in crashes between deer/antelope and motorists. As high in some areas as 85 percent.
The majority of Wyoming ungulates migrate from higher elevations to lower winter grounds annually. These lower elevation winter grounds allow for easier accessible food and open water sources throughout the winter months. Animals remain in their winter grounds in most instances through the spring birthing seasons.
“Wyoming has demonstrated leadership in protecting wildlife as they migrate,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “Similar efforts the state has engaged in have not only benefited wildlife but saved motorists as well. Projects like this one draw national attention to our state’s efforts to support wildlife health, and also open the door for federal funding of similar projects.”
Past successful wildlife crossing initiatives similar to the La Barge Big Piney crossing project include the following. Trappers Point US 191 between Pinedale and Daniel, Wyoming; Nugget Canyon US 30 near Kemmerer, Wyoming; Togwotee Pass US 287 between Dubois and Moran, Wyoming; and Jackson South US 89/191 in Jackson, Wyoming. The combined cost for previously listed wildlife crossing projects was close to $26 million.
Wildlife crossing implementations have been based off a long history of state data collection. These reports include crash data, carcass counts, animal collaring and movement patterning. Project successes are measured with similar data. Plus visual proof through webcams installed along wildlife crossing paths that show herds using installed underpasses.
“Wildlife is valuable to Wyoming, and this project is an investment that helps preserve the historic migration of many big game species,” said Brian Nesvik, Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director. “Underpasses, coupled with fencing, can reduce crashes by 80-90% and ensure animals can safely cross-roads to get to seasonal ranges.”
The joint effort between Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has a proven track record of protecting both migratory herds and motorists.
“This funding will help us keep Wyoming’s roads safer for everyone,” said WYDOT Chief Engineer Shelby Carlson. “WYDOT, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other stakeholders have been studying this issue and have identified several areas in the state where improvements need to be made. Dry Piney is one of those areas and this grant will help us make those vital improvements.”
Are you a Wyoming resident? Do you see the benefits of the wildlife migration efforts that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are making?