WDOT to complete Wyoming Range wildlife crossings
Wyoming wildlife will get a break as the state moves forward with wildlife crossings along U.S. Highway 189. This is considered the “deadliest stretch” for Wyoming Range mule deer, which runs between La Barge and Big Piney. Every year, about 150 mule deer are killed here due to vehicle collisions though the number may actually be higher since not all deaths are reported, according to The Cowboy State Daily.
“This is winter range for the mule deer,” said Jennifer Hoffman, an engineer with the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WDOT). “The deer cross several times a day. There’s not much traffic, but there is so much movement among the deer, they just get slaughtered.”
The plan calls for nine underpasses along 16 miles that span La Barge and Big Piney and, so far, six underpasses have been completed. Additional fences to “funnel” wildlife to use the underpasses are also done at three sites. The state is working toward an Oct. 31 deadline.
“Two of the underpasses are functioning the way they’re supposed to, and there are deer tracks at the third fenced site, indicating that animals have been using it too,” said Hoffman, who pointed out that mule deer will “benefit most from the underpasses” as well as antelope.
“The terrain out here is super-flat. We couldn’t put overpasses like we could in the Pinedale area,” said Hoffman. “Antelope prefer to go under things, not over them.”
Wyoming wildlife has already been through enough with the severe winter conditions resulting in high mortality among mule deer and antelope. Decreasing the chances of vehicle collisions through the installation of underpasses can only help wildlife rebound further. If you’re driving in this area, be on the lookout for special signage asking you to slow down just outside of La Barge.
“We’re putting up some special signs there. We can turn them on and have them flashing when there are a lot of deer moving through there,” said Hoffman.