WYOMING — As winter rolls in, wildlife across Wyoming has started its seasonal migration, which poses a special hazard for motorists and moving animals.

When an animal is hit on the highway, it can be traumatic and dangerous for the driver, but also fatal for the animals. According to the Wyoming Nature Conservancy, the cost of these accidents in Wyoming averages about $55 million per year. A new report by Dr. Corinna Riginos, director of science at The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming, assembles current and long-term data on wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC), roadway hotspots for these accidents and makes recommendations on ways to help reduce them.

According to the report, currently, an average of 21 big game animals are killed by vehicles per day in Wyoming, with an average of eight per day that results in significant damage to the vehicles and/or humans.

On average Wyoming has seen an increase of

  • 191 total big-game-vehicle collisions per year
  • 173 additional deer-vehicle collisions per year
  • 16 additional pronghorn-vehicle collisions per year
  • 6 additional elk-vehicle collisions per year

From modifying fences and roadside vegitation efforts to wildlife crossings over major highways have been made to reduce the number of WVC’s in Wyoming. Former WVC hotspots have nearly been eliminated as a result of wildlife crossing structures, at sites west of Kemmerer (Nugget Canyon), north of Pinedale (Trappers Point), on Togwotee Pass, north of Baggs, and most recently south of Jackson.

“There are real solutions to these challenges, and we have made great progress in advancing them over the last few years,” said Dr. Riginos. “We have a unique opportunity ahead of us to make an even greater difference in the coming years, by leveraging Federal infrastructure dollars. With motivation and collaboration, we can make Wyoming’s roads safer for wildlife and people alike.”

Toby Koekkoek is a Community News Reporter, and a recent resident of Teton Valley. He enjoys writing about our region's community events and the movers and shakers that make up the culture of this unique mountain town. He enjoys deep powder, and deep thoughts, skateboarding, playing racquet sports, riding his bike, and nerding out on music. Toby also coaches freeride skiing for the Jackson Hole Ski Club and runs skateboard camps in the summer.