Preliminary data on the South Highway 89 wildlife underpasses and updates on the 22/390 project.
WYDOT is hosting a virtual public meeting room now through January 10 to provide an update on the Snake River Bridge and Hwy 22/390 intersection project. This project has four associated wildlife underpasses and is one of the highest priority areas in the Teton County Wildlife Crossings Master Plan.
Check out design renderings of the entire project and see where the four wildlife underpasses will be located in the virtual public meeting room:
To hear directly from WYDOT and learn more about the project, there is a live event scheduled for January 6th. Details to follow.
Another update on local wildlife crossings is the release of preliminary data on how wildlife use the South Highway 89 wildlife underpasses. Hannah Specht from the University of Montana, who studied our wildlife crossings, gave a presentation at the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation – watch it here. While Hannah mostly studies the ungulate populations that underpasses are commonly built for, she relays important information on the frequency and diversity of wildlife that are using these structures, including mountain lion, moose, mule deer, badgers, beavers, red fox, elk, and several other wildlife species! Over the 18 months of post-construction monitoring, Hannah and her team recorded 1,300 independent crossing events and it’s likely even more undetected passes occurred. The big takeaway from Hannah’s presentation is that wildlife crossings work: They’ve seen successful utilization of the underpasses by a variety of species leading to a reduction in wildlife-vehicle collisions.
The bad news is, Hannah and her team also report that problem areas for wildlife-vehicle collisions still exist. Their data show an increase of ungulate-vehicle collisions where the fencing leading to the wildlife structures ends, especially during seasonal movement (as we expected). If traveling on S. HWY 89 please note the fence end locations and continue to watch for crossing wildlife!