If you build it, they will come

Conservation Chronicle: The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance

October 23, 2012

Wildlife crossings are a win-win for people and animals

Good news in the world of wildlife crossings: Cameras have captured herds of pronghorn crossing two recently constructed wildlife overpasses north of Pinedale, Wyo. With the crossing structures in place, pronghorn can safely travel the entire 6,000-year-old, 150-mile-round-trip migration from Grand Teton National Park to Sublette County and back again without playing a real life-or-death game of Frogger on Wyoming’s highways.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation’s success in Sublette County gives hope to the Alliance staff and our numerous partners as we work to install wildlife crossings at wildlife-vehicle collision hotspots throughout Jackson Hole.

The Alliance commissioned experts from the Western Transportation Institute to conduct a 2011 study (PDF) of those hotspots. Armed with these data, the Alliance is playing a key role as WYDOT prepares for upgrades to south Highway 89, Highway 22, and Highway 390. The study was made possible thanks to grants from 1% for the Tetons; the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole; Patagonia, Inc.; Teton County, Wyoming; the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative; and our community of donors.

The Alliance also sits on the steering committee of Safe Wildlife Crossings for Jackson Hole, a partnership of non-profits and agencies with the goal of facilitating wildlife-crossing structures in Teton County.

Installing wildlife overpasses and underpasses gives Jackson Hole a very real way to show how much we care about wildlife.

Wildlife crossings are fiscally responsible too. Crossing structures in Wyoming not only save the lives of hundreds of elk, deer, moose, and other species every year, but also thousands of dollars that each collision costs our community. Over time, each crossing structure actually pays for itself.

Check out an October 15, 2012, KSL story on the success of wildlife crossings in Utah.

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