Wildlife-Vehicle report: 2017-18 a bad year for moose

JACKSON, WY — The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation released a new Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Report for 2017-2018.

The good news: Overall, the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) declined 50% compared to 2016-17. A total of 181 WVCs were recorded in 2017, compared to 265 in 2016-17. It was a lucky year for mule deer, as casualties dropped from 265 to 105.

The bad news: both elk and moose saw slight increases in collision fatalities. There were 49 reported elk-vehicle casualties and 20 moose casualties. Along Wyoming Highway 22, there were 14 confirmed moose casualties, compared to eight in 2016-17 and five in 2015-16. Two moose WVCs were reported on Wyoming Highway 390.

The report shows an ongoing trend of sharp peaks and valleys corresponding largely with winter severity. The relatively mild winter in 2017-2018, combined with the effects of a severe winter in 2016-2017, partly explains the sharp decrease in WVCs from May 2017 through April 2018. Winter 2016-2017’s high mule deer mortality rate also likely led to localized population declines, which could have contributed to the WVC decline.

The Teton County Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Report combines annual WVC data from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and Nature Mapping Jackson Hole (a program of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation). WVCs occurring in Grand Teton National Park are excluded from this report, as the park maintains its own database.

The 2017-2018 report was delayed to ensure data integrity as public agency databases were combined. The 2018-2019 report (May 2018-April 2019) will be available later this summer. This database is likely a significant underestimate of WVC occurrences in Teton County, as many collisions go unreported or animals are hit and die out of sight from roads.

Visit jhwildlife.org to read the full report.

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