Idaho slow building wildlife over and underpasses. Collisions with vehicles spike

More than 5,000 deer, elk and moose killed last year. Actual number might be considerably higher-

Idaho newspapers are carrying an AP story today how a large and growing number of bears, deer, elk and moose are being killed on Idaho roads by vehicles.

It seems that Idaho lags behind neighboring states in building the wildlife crossings that have been shown to be quite successful reducing the number of these accidents. The AP story gives details on some of the projects underway in Idaho.






  1. Joseph C. Allen Avatar
    Joseph C. Allen

    I wonder if 5,000 cows/sheep were killed, would the over/underpasses have been built more expeditiously? Oh sorry, too busy killing wolves.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Early last summer, I spent days listening to and watching, an excavator (on the meadow across from me) ripping out hundreds of willows along a stream bed.

      Countless birds and wildlife were interrupted at a crital time of the year – raising their young.

      Then, the piles of dead willow, sat there for the rest of the year, no doubt becoming a home, a refuge, shelter, to a host of other wildlife.

      Today, those piles were set on fire.

      Yes, private property (and who really gives a s+*t about air quality in these parts?) BUT, its just another fine example of caring little about the wildlife trying to co-exist, in order to make way for a few more precious yards of grass……. for cattle.

      So Joseph, you have to keep in mind, its “what’s for dinner – beef!” that really matters in this part of the country and the hell with wildlife (or neighobrs who might happen to upwind or down wind of the kerosene soaked burn 🙂

  2. Salle Avatar

    And they just hold up traffic while they use the roads instead. And if a domestic livestock animal is hit, the driver gets fined and has to pay market value for the loss.

    Still, wildlife and driver safety are of little concern here. Now if it has a negative affect on hunting, now that’s a big thing that needs fixin’.

    1. Robert R Avatar
      Robert R

      Sale hitting live stock and getting fined only appies if it’s considered open range.

      Nancy maybe the willow removal was for more pasture or cleaning a ditch I don’t know.
      The way of thinking is changing.. Instead of letting cattle use small steams for watering,wells have been drilled and water tanks have been installed and stream banks are being stabilized a little at a time. I know this for fact because we have done dozens of water tanks and stream banks all on private. I hope no uses any products from the ranching industry as much as there criticized.

      1. Nancy Avatar

        Was a stream bank not a ditch.

        As far as “hitting live stock and getting fined only appies if it’s considered open range”

        That’s most, if not all of Montana, Robert R 🙂

        I saw cattle grazing along and crossing over, a very busy highway this past sunmer which I’ve never witnessed before unless someone is moving them to another area.

        There were signs “catlle on open range” in a couple of spots but what good does that do when say a family of 5 from Florida, who probably have no idea what “open range” means, comes over a hill at 70 miles an hour and crashes into a few of them? Leaving cattle unattended on a busy highway, IMHO, is a criminal act.

        Had someone move cattle out last year from an area near me but didn’t round them all up. Left the gate open and some young guy plowed into one of the cows out on the road that night. (Black cow, black road, nighttime – bad combination)

        Totalled the vehicle but was damn lucky he, his sister and young son were not killed.

        The cow belonged to one of the wealthest ranchers in the area who made NO effort to compensate the guy for the loss of his vehicle, claming “open range – tough sh*t”

        There’s a law that needs to be changed and soon, its not the 1940’s anymore.

  3. alf Avatar

    Hey, it’s Idaho ! What do you expect ??

    I honestly believe that as many — or darn close to it — deer in Lemhi county are road killed as the evil, ravenous wolves get.

    Anyone remember the woman a few months ago (in South Dakota, I think it was) who phoned in to a talk show and complained about the deer crossing signs and how they just ecouraged them to cross the roads and become traffic hazards ? If she wasn’t serious, she was a pretty good actor.

    Anyhow, maybe if we put up more deer crossing signs here, it could direct the animals to safer crossing places ! :>)

  4. Joseph C. Allen Avatar
    Joseph C. Allen

    Thanks for the ironic clarity of your responses. Having previously lived in the Laramie region, I have witnessed the hyper-glorified treatment of livestock at the expense of wildlife; everything from public land grazing, riparian habitat destruction, to predator removal has made the west “safe” for cows? Here is a question: what percentage of national livestock production comes the Rocky Mountain west? My guess is that is relatively small compared to the rest of the country…..but “large” enough (politically) to justify exploiting wildlife.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Think its less than 6 percent Joseph.

  5. Craig Avatar

    Funny thing I noticed today from my trip from Meridian to Pocatello! A lot of these underpasses are blocked off with barbed wire so the cattle grazing cant go from north to south.
    This continues clear to Blacks Creek outside of Boise. So really do these do any good? I know some do like the ones towards Lucky peak. But the ones on free graze welfare land seem to have a differnt agenda!
    Are they ran subject to what lazy ass welfare ranchers are doing with their cattle, compared to when wildlife is migrating? Who’s watching? Who’s in charge? Who makes these decisions?I understand the benifits, but if the ranchers are dictating when and where they are open it’s bullshit and a waste of money!

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      Regarding the fences for livestock at what should be wildlife underpasses, another place you can see this similar lack of concern by ranchers about investments for wildlife is on many streams where fences were built (usually with public money) to keep the cows off the stream banks.

      Most are soon allowed to fall into neglect and serve to funnel and trap the cattle on the stream banks as much as exclude them. This is because someone else, other than the rancher, built and paid for the fence. If they were required to maintain them, at least, as a condition for a grazing or highway crossing permit, things might end up much differently.

  6. monty Avatar

    I assume the vast majority of the road kills are from night drivers who are in a rush to get nowhere. We humans are nasty brutes!

    1. Dude, the bagman Avatar
      Dude, the bagman

      I don’t think trying to convince people to drive only during daylight hours is going to do much for the wildlife.

      I don’t have a ton of sympathy for deer right now. There are just too damn many of the scrawny little bastards. Incidentally, I think mountain lions are doing pretty well right now, even around towns. They’re brutes too.

      Nature is brutal. Scavengers will eat the roadkill. Circle of life and all that. There is no waste. Well…other than maybe porcupines.

      Two deer attempted suicide via my car this summer (ran into ME). Yeah, it was dusk. No, I wasn’t speeding. But, being in a car, I was going SOMEWHERE at an unnaturally high speed. That’s why people use cars. To get places it’d take too long to walk.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        One the things people who said wolves were killing all the deer and elk failed to notice was that wolves and other scavengers got much of their nutrition in many places from road kill.


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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox