MOOSE, Wyo. — Park officials are asking visitors and local residents to practice vigilance while driving in Grand Teton National Park.
In the last two weeks alone, five bison, one elk, one mule deer, one pronghorn, one coyote and one wolf pup were hit and killed by vehicles traveling on park roads, says GTNP.
For many animals, fall is a time of migration which means animals may be more active near park roadways and can cross the roads unexpectedly. Days become shorter as fall transitions to winter. Drivers should use caution and slow down, especially at dawn, dusk, and during the night when visibility is reduce
Josh Metten, a naturalist with Jackson Hole EcoTour Adventures told Buckrail in early October, “Fall is a really important time of year; ungulates (hoofed mammals) are primarily migratory in this ecosystem,”
“For the most part, they have to move from their summer range to winter range because the places they summer become too deep with snow for them to survive. This is especially true in the Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Jackson Hole area,” Metten said.
Visitors and local residents should obey posted speed limits and maintain a safe following distance from other vehicles. Please follow the nighttime speed limit of 45 miles per hour on U.S. Highway 26/89/191. The reduced speed limit gives drivers and wildlife more time to react.
In addition, drivers should pay close attention while driving on park roads. Many animals are good at hiding along roadsides and it is important to be aware that animals are around, even when you do not see them. Speeding is not the only cause of wildlife collisions. Park wildlife are often hit because drivers are not paying attention to their surroundings.
When an animal is hit, wildlife management staff are sent to respond. Depending on the circumstances, this pulls staff members away from their other duties for a considerable amount of time in order to perform carcass removal, biological sampling, and clean up. This directly impacts park staff’s ability to protect other wildlife.
According to the park, around 75—100 large animals are hit by vehicles annually in Grand Teton.