Wildlife-vehicle collisions are a big deal for anyone traveling in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. These tragedies can be scary, expensive, and sometimes fatal. Yellowstone’s wildlife need to cross many roads as they travel to and from their winter and summer ranges. As these roads get busier, wider, and faster they become more dangerous for drivers and act as a barrier to wildlife movement.
Highway 20 — right here in our own backyard — is one of these roads. It connects Ashton, Idaho to West Yellowstone, Montana via Targhee Pass. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will be expanding this section of road soon, and now is the time to use your voice to help ensure that this will be a safe highway for both drivers and wildlife.
Science has shown that there are viable solutions that both increase drivers’ safety and allow wildlife movement. Wildlife overpasses and fencing, like those outside of Pinedale, Wyoming, and Wells, Nevada, reduce wildlife vehicle collisions by 83-87% and allow wildlife to migrate.
Today, you can ensure safe highways for both drivers and wildlife in Idaho. The Idaho Transportation Department is currently accepting comments on the options in their draft Environmental Assessment for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions on Targhee Pass. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) supports Alternative 2, which would utilize wildlife overpasses with fencing, because it does the best job at increasing driver’s safety and allows a secure path for wildlife as they move along their ancient migration routes.
“This is a federal highway, and everyone who drives this route deserves a safe road to travel” says Mac Dukart, Communications and Engagement Associate for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “We encourage folks from all over the ecosystem to contact ITD in support of wildlife crossings on this section of highway, so it can be as safe as possible for drivers and wildlife.”
ITD is accepting public comments until February 1. If you’d like to make your voice heard, you can submit comments online here. Better yet, stop by Hand Fire Pizza on January 28 anytime between 5 and 8 p.m. and submit comments the old-fashioned way: via postcard. GYC has created postcards specifically for this cause, and will provide pizza, beer, and support staff to help you make personalized comments.
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