Below is a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supplied a letter of support for the Wyoming Department of Transporation’s federal grant application in 2019.
Construction continues on the first of nine highway underpasses in western Wyoming that will reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions in an important wintering area for one of the more premiere mule deer herds in the west. The Dry Piney wildlife crossing project, led by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, is slated to be complete by October of next year, with the first phase being finished this year.
This section of Highway 189 has one of the highest wildlife-vehicle collision rates in Wyoming; it goes through the Wyoming Range, which serves as crucial winter range for one of the largest mule deer herds in the west. WYDOT numbers show from 2018 to 2020 an average of 68 animal carcasses are picked up by maintenance crews.
The Dry Piney project will include nine underpasses and 16.7 miles of 8 ft.-high fencing on both sides of the highway to encourage big game, primarily mule deer and some pronghorn, to use the underpasses.
The cost of the project will be $15.1 million, supported by the federal BUILD grant, Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and Wyoming Transportation Commission. Other supporters include the public, Sublette County, conservation organizations, Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resources Trust fund, private donors and landowners.
Underpasses are a proven asset in reducing wildlife/vehicle collisions, increasing motorist safety, and preserving the wildlife resource. Seven underpasses and eight-foot-high game fencing along a 13.5 mile stretch of Highway 30 west of Kemmerer resulted in an 81% reduction in deer/vehicle collisions after three years. Another project on Highway 191 near Pinedale with underpasses, fencing and two overpasses entirely eliminated pronghorn collisions after three years, and mule deer collisions dropped by 79%.
Game and Fish has identified 240 projects statewide to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. A living, online map depicting high collision sections of roads across Wyoming can be found on the Game and Fish website.
(Video source: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)