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Pinedale Online > News > December 2008 > G&F: Motorists, watch for Wildlife

Dead Elk. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game & Fish.
Dead Elk
Three elk lay dead along Highway 191 east of Hoback Junction as a truck passes by. Photo by Mark Gocke, WGFD

Dead Deer. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game & Fish.
Dead Deer
A mule deer doe lays dead along Highway 191 north of Daniel as a semi-truck passes by. Photo by Mark Gocke, WGFD

Dead elk-Damaged Car. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game & Fish.
Dead elk-Damaged Car
A cow elk lays dead along Highway 89 north of Jackson as the damaged vehicle is prepared to be towed away. Photo by Mark Gocke, WGFD
G&F: Motorists, watch for Wildlife
by Wyoming Game & Fish
December 11, 2008

Itís that time of year when highway travelers need to slow down and pay special attention for animals along our roadways. Wyoming is blessed with an abundance of big game, and the winter weather causes them to migrate to lower elevations where they are forced to negotiate highways and the associated traffic. Wildlife have limited options during winter, and we need to assume the responsibility of looking out for them while behind the wheel, for both the animalsí safety and our own.

Of course, wildlife can appear just about anytime and anywhere, but there are some specific areas around Pinedale where several animals seem to get struck every year. "We continually have a great number of deer hit between the Hoback Rim and the town of Pinedale this time of year," said Wildlife Management Coordinator Scott Smith. Motorists should use special caution on Highway 191 just west of Pinedale around the Cora junction. "This is a major migration route for mule deer and pronghorn, and motorists just need to slow down and expect to see wildlife here," said Smith. Another area to pay attention to is along Highway 189 from the junction with 191 south past Daniel. Deer are also abundant just south of Pinedale on Highway 191.

"Itís hard to say just how many big game animals get hit here each year because we know a lot of animals that get hit still make it away from the roadside only to die later, out of sight," said Smith. "Itís safe to say we lose hundreds of deer and other big game animals each year due to vehicle collisions. Highway loss is often comparable to the numbers taken through hunting each fall."

In the Jackson area, Highway 89/191 south of Jackson to the entrances of both the Hoback and Snake River Canyons and north into Grand Teton National Park are areas that deserve increased motorist caution. Highway 22 to Wilson and 390 north to Teton Village are other areas around Jackson that warrant caution.

According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) 2007 annual report, over 15% of the reported crashes in the state were collisions with wildlife. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has established restitution values for many wildlife species. These restitution values are typically applied to the sentence of individuals convicted of poaching such wildlife. It is a way of asserting a monetary value to wildlife and when those restitution values are applied to the total number of animals killed in vehicle collisions each year the resulting amounts can be astonishing as shown below. Again, these are just those animals documented by WYDOT. It is believed that many more animals are hit and killed than are documented.

1,838 deer reported killed worth $7,352,000
125 elk reported killed worth $750,000
158 antelope reported killed worth $474,000
30 moose reported killed worth $225,000

2 human fatalities were caused by collisions with deer
156 human injuries were caused by collisions with wildlife (10 antelope, 122 deer, 17 elk, 6 moose, 1 other).

Photos courtesy Wyoming Game & Fish

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