After years of increasing animal collisions in Wyoming, officials imagined a way to help. A wildlife crossing is currently under construction below a section of Interstate 25. And despite only just breaking ground in late 2023, it has already saved countless critters’ lives.
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A portion of I-25 between Buffalo and Kaycee is the state’s second-deadliest stretch of highway for mule deer, with vehicles killing up to 40 being each year. As of now, construction crews have completed 60% of the project, which will cover 36 miles. They estimate that it could be finished by this summer.
The concept works with the help of fencing that directs animals to safe “agricultural underpasses.” WYldlife Fund president Chris McBarnes says animals have been regularly using the crossings that are partially in place.
The state built existing agricultural underpasses for farmers and ranchers who needed a safe way to move their livestock and equipment across the highways that cut through fields. Some animals were already routing through the tunnels on their own, but officials needed a way to direct more.
The WYLdlife Fund Hopes to Build More Animal Crossings Throughout the State
The WYldlife Fund started raising money for the $4.4 million project in 2020. And the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission agreed to prioritize the project once the funds were secured. The organization managed to earn money with the help of local citizens. The federal government helped by allocating a portion of the $350 million it set aside to build more wildlife crossings in the country. The project broke ground last fall.
Chris noted that vehicles hit an estimated 6,000 large animals in the state each year, which means the highways are almost as dangerous to humans as they are to animals. Because of that, Wyoming and the WYldlife Fund believe the costly wildlife crossings are worth every penny.
“What price can you put on a human life?” he asked. “There’s an estimated 21 collisions with big game animals every day in Wyoming.”
Once the Kaycee-to-Buffalo crossing is complete, the WYldlife fund hopes to secure more stretches of dangerous highways.
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