After years of talk, action-

The Wildlife News, like other local and even national media, has reported frequently about the beauty and the threat to the lengthy  biannual pronghorn migration route from Jackson Hole to the Wyoming high desert and back.

It’s not like nothing was done to conserve this threatened spectacle, it’s that nothing major was done. Now, finally, a $2.5 million, 150-foot-wide overpass built for the 3000 pronghorn and 2000 muleys who have to cross the dangerous highway at the Trapper’s Point constriction.

At a total cost of $10-million, in addition to the overpass at Trapper’s Point, six underpasses and one more overpass have been built on the wildlife, critical very busy section of U.S. Highway 189/191 between Daniel Junction and Pinedale. Over the last decade the highway has become much busier as large natural gas fields have developed adjacent.

This autumn was the initial test to see if the migrating animals would use the new paths of safety. They are using it at a rate of nearly 100 per cent!

There is a full story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Preserving our pronghorn: New wildlife crossing structures benefit antelope, mule deer — and people. By Mike Koshmrl. Article has photos.
National interest comes from the Green Blog in the New York Times. Safe Passage for PronghornsBy Rachel Nuwer.

This particular pronghorn migration has become famous and now it has a new lease on life. Recently, however, additional very long pronghorn migrations have been discovered, especially in Idaho. These need protection too.

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About The Author

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.

9 Responses to Finally, wildlife overpasses built at Trappers Point, WY to conserve 6000 year old pronghorn migration route

  1. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    That’s wonderful. Very beautiful animals. :)

  2. avatar mikepost says:

    I think the states are waking up to the fact that not only do the animals need support for migration routes but that the direct and public safety costs related to animal-vehicle accidents is tremendous. This is two birds with one stone.

    Colorado has instituted two laws in this respect. 1) they drop speed limits 10mph during hours of darkness in wildlife areas. 2) They have instituted a system much like most of us see in construction zones, they have posted roads in wildlife areas with “fines double” signage for any violations during the migration months.

    Easing the path for wildlife across interstates is a win-win for everyone; tax payers, hunters, drivers, police…

  3. avatar Chris Harbin says:

    Like Mike, I agee this overpass serves a dual purpose. Not only does it protect the pronghorn but also the travelling public. The project cost may seem high but should over time be repaid both monetarily and in certain intangible ways.

  4. avatar WM says:

    Another example of “easing the path for wildlife.” Years ago an elk herd began hanging out near the city of Sequim in the sunny part of the WA Olympic Peninsula. Some elk were injured/killed by cars. WA DFW collared a couple, with proximity locators that matched “Watchout for Elk” crossing signs with yellow flashing lights near the usual migratory drainage path they took when crossing US 101 (not Interstate hiway, but nontheless a heavily used road). This low cost solution has seemed to work pretty well over the years.

  5. avatar Nancy says:

    Came upon about 15 Pronghorn the other day trying to navigate fences on their fall migration out of my area. I just got a glimpse as I drove by but it was sad to see these beautiful animals, banging themselves up against the fenceline as they tried to get thru and as far away as possible, from the traffic on the road.
    Also come upon elk going thru the same thing over the past couple of weeks.

    As many areas are developed and our populations increase in those areas, it would be a great idea to start tracking these migrations to find ways to buffer the “impact” on some of these roadways.

  6. avatar Leslie says:

    I was down there this summer while they were building it. There were ‘experts’ who said it was a waste of $$ to include the overpass; so glad they put it in along with the underpass. I’ve been traveling to the Pinedale area for over 15 years now, and that road has changed mightily. It’s bigger and newly paved for faster speeds. Canada has been hip to this kind of wildlife passes for years. I’m glad to see WYDOT doing the right thing for wildlife.

  7. avatar kvnwd says:

    Great post. Love to see a picture of overpass. Pictures are great story tellers you should post one with each article.

  8. avatar alf says:

    “Recently, however, additional very long pronghorn migrations have been discovered, especially in Idaho.” Where, exactly ? Can you elaborate, please, Ralph ?

    You also write, “…six underpasses and one more overpass have been built…” From what I’ve been told and read, underpasses are nowhere near as effective as overpasses in allowing animals passage across barriers, at least for herbivoires, because, as prey species, they feel much less secure in enclosed spaces than on overpasses, where they have a bigger field of vision and feel they have better escape routes from predators.

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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