Plate debate tomorrow all about wildlife

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) is taking on tour an informative series of open houses aimed and spreading awareness for a piece of legislation it believes could help with wildlife-vehicle collisions.

House Bill 39 would create specialty license plates for purchase that would provide a dedicated funding source for wildlife/habitat initiatives. Money from the plates would go directly to a wildlife conservation fund within the Wyoming Department of Transportation for things like signage, wildlife corridors, wildlife crossings, and game fences. Groups across Wyoming are supporting this bill and are together hosting the Wildlife Roadways Tour.

Last winter may have been an anomaly, weather-wise, but the fact is wildlife do cross highways. They may be migrating or just making day trips to water or forage. GYC wildlife program coordinator Chris Colligan says it’s important to continue to mindful of maintaining connectivity for wildlife movement within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“We work with WYDOT and are involved with several organizations on projects that pinpoint hotspot locations on highways where wildlife are more likely to be,” Colligan said. “Wildlife doesn’t recognized borders or land ownership or state highways to get from Point A to Point B.”

GYC and others are involved in a Wildlife Crossing master plan for Teton County, which should be out early this spring. Colligan said GYC is pushing for the new legislation for the funding mechanism but also as a way to raise awareness with lawmakers—that Wyoming residents do care about wildlife.

In 2016, there were a total of 2,874 wildlife-vehicle collisions that were reported. In Wyoming 1-in-15 human fatalities on our highways involve a wildlife crash. This is not just another license plate bill. This bill will create an opportunity for any Wyoming resident who cares about wildlife to voluntarily purchase a plate to create solutions for these problems.

These funds will be leveraged to do things like build highway crossings that have been successful at reducing collisions in Wyoming by more than 80%.

Dates and Locations:

Cowboy Coffee

January 31 – Jackson 6pm-8pm @ Cowboy Coffee
February 1 – Dubois 6pm-8pm @ Bighorn Sheep Center
February 3 – Lander 6pm-8pm @ Coalter Loft
February 7 – Casper 6pm-8pm @Studio City Cinema East, booth at the Hunting Film Tour
February 8 – Cheyenne 6pm-8pm @ Laramie County Library

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