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Pinedale Online > News > November 2012 > New crossings help wildlife

Pronghorn crossing. Photo by Hall Sawyer, West, Inc.  .
Pronghorn crossing
A group of pronghorn antelope cross the overpass at Trapper's Point west of Pinedale. Photo by Hall Sawyer, West, Inc.

Pronghorn crossing. Photo by Hall Sawyer, West, Inc.  .
Pronghorn crossing
A group of pronghorn antelope cross the overpass at Trapper's Point west of Pinedale. Photo by Hall Sawyer, West, Inc.
New crossings help wildlife
by Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming Department of Transportation
November 3, 2012

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) are pleased to announce that the recently completed wildlife crossing structures on U.S. Highway 191 west of Pinedale are working as planned and are successfully being used by wildlife. It is estimated that approximately 2,000-3,000 pronghorn and 2,000-2,500 mule deer pass through the well-known Trapper’s Point migration corridor each spring and fall. Some of the pronghorn come from as far as Grand Teton National Park north of Jackson.

The project consists of six underpasses and two overpasses to help wildlife safely negotiate the highway traffic. The overpasses are the first of its kind in Wyoming and the first ever built specifically for pronghorn anywhere. The project also includes an eight-foot-tall wildlife fence on both sides of the highway for the entire 12-mile-long corridor to funnel animals through the crossings.

"We’re elated to see the animals using the crossings just as we’d hoped, especially the pronghorn using the overpasses," said Scott Smith, Pinedale Wildlife Management Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "We’re not aware of any overpasses ever being built for pronghorn, so we weren’t exactly sure how they would react to them, but they seem to be passing over them just fine." Underpasses also have been installed near Kemmerer and Baggs, with mule deer, elk, and even moose using them, but pronghorn have proven very reluctant to pass through them.

The overpasses are 150-foot wide with earthen berms along both sides to block the view of the highway below. There is also eight-foot-tall wildlife fencing along the top of the berms to prevent animals from accidently jumping off the overpass. The entire dirt surface has been planted to native grasses and shrubs to match the surroundings.

WYDOT has contracted with the wildlife consulting firm, WEST, Inc. of Cheyenne to conduct a three year study to monitor the success of the structures. WEST has already documented well over a thousand pronghorn and mule deer using the structures west of Pinedale.

It also has been documented that people have been driving ATVs and motorcycles on the wildlife crossing structures. Both WYDOT and WGFD would like to remind people that the purpose of these structures is for wildlife movement and it is of utmost importance that these animals be able to move freely through the crossings without disturbance.

The total cost for the project is approximately $9.7 million, paid for by the State of Wyoming Transportation Fund. The six underpasses cost approximately $3.6 million and the two overpasses cost $5 million. WYDOT has estimated that vehicle-wildlife collisions at Trapper’s Point cost approximately $500,000 annually.

"Trapper’s Point has historically been one of the worst places in the state for wildlife collisions. These types of projects are expensive, but when you are saving $500,000 each year in vehicle crash costs and wildlife mortality costs, the project pays for itself in about 20 years," said John Eddins, District Engineer with the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

The project is a collaborative effort between Wyoming Department of Transportation, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Recently, WYDOT and the cooperating agencies were honored by the Federal Highway Administration with the prestigious Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative award for their collaborative efforts in keeping motorists safe while protecting wildlife on the Trappers Point project.

Related Links
  • Wildlife passage structures working - October 19, 2012
  • Wildlife Connectivity road projects continue - October 19, 2011
  • US 191 near Pinedale to get 6 wildlife crossing underpasses and 2 overpasses - December 15, 2010
  • Antelope crossing at Trappers Point Bottleneck - April 17, 2006
  • Pinedale Online > News > November 2012 > New crossings help wildlife

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