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

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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  1. cowboy the cat Avatar
    cowboy the cat

    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. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    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. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    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. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    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. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    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. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    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. Dash Riprock Avatar
    Dash Riprock

    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.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan