The Wyoming Range’s deer herd is not doing well. A lot of deer are killed on the highway. This is an fairly ambitious effort to reduce highway mortality. I’ve had some close calls on U.S. 30, and I don’t drive it very often.

Taking the low road. By JEFF GEARINO. Southwest Wyoming bureau. Casper Star Tribune.

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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

7 Responses to Underpasses for deer built on U.S. 30 northwest of Kemmerer, WY

  1. avatar cowboy the cat says:

    As these folks seem to know, and I imagine the reason this project has taken so long to materialize (it was in the works way back when I worked in Kemmerer), getting the deer to use the thing is the trick. I guess over time, they will, but I imagine they’ll avoid it like the plague for a while.

  2. Overpasses work better for deer because the deer sense that an underpass looks a lot like a natural feature where a cougar would hang out, and I believe they do in cougar country.

  3. Overpasses are highly successful in Austria and Slovenia, albeit expensive to build! I remember they should be a minimum width of 200m to be accepted by wildlife. In Austria it took only days for deer to accept it and only weeks until the first bear left his prints in the sand deliberately spread on the surface to see who is using it during darkness. In Slovenia clever hunters even built their stands near overpasses until demolition was ordered. It seems that animals are in general reluctant to use underpasses.

  4. avatar April Clauson says:

    In Slovenia clever hunters even built their stands near overpasses
    _____
    Clever, you mean lazy bums! I am happy that they were made to demolish those stands. If you are going to hunt do it the proper way! We have underpass’s in AZ and they work just fine…hopefully these will too!

  5. Of course I meant “clever” . Here in Europe hunters are usually bad tempered when they can´t use their stands and have to walk through the woods :-))

  6. The current issue of the Wild Cat News (available at http://www.cougarnet.org) contains an article about Florida Panther Roadkills. In Florida underpasses are obviously a highly successful conservation tool for Florida Panthers! With the report comes a good photo coverage of these underpasses.

  7. avatar Dash Riprock says:

    When I worked for the BLM as a biologist in Kemmerer, I was advocating spanned overpasses on HWY 30 (Nugget Canyon) and HWY 189 south of Kemmerer. Doing this would have cut down on road killed mule deer, pronghorn, and elk. My concerns fell on deaf ears. You see Wyoming Department of Game and Fish wants to keep the elk out of the Cumberland allotments. Doing so protects “their” mule deer herds, abeit at the expense of elk and pronghorn.

    Sure spanned overpasses are more expensive, but they pay it back in highway safety and fewer wildlife mortalities. They also allow wintering elk to migrate 50 more miles farther south to better and safer wintering areas.

    If you’ve got concerns please call the WYG&F habitat biologist in Kemmerer, and the BLM office there.

    An added benefit to the decrease in roadkill would have been a corresponding decrease in the food base for ravens, crows, magpies, raptors, foxes, skunks, etc. All of these scavengers are great nest predators for the imperilled sage-grouse. Allowing those grouse nests to continue being predated is just another nail in their coffin.

    I had to leave Kemmerer because I felt like I was beating my head against the wall trying to get truly positive actions done with management and the Kemmerer WYG&F biologist.
    I won’t be surprised if the sage grouse does get listed shortly. If it does, it’ll serve WYG&F and BLM Wyoming their just deserts. Don’t get me wrong, I love the BLM, and the new regional WYG&F supervisor is pretty sharp, but he relies very heavily on the Kemmerer biologist and his short-sighted views.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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