WILDLIFE

Feds give Utah $5.5M to build wildlife crossings near Kanab

Dec 7, 2023, 3:08 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 9:59 am

wildlife overpasses...

Members of the media tour a wildlife overpass on I-80 in Parleys Canyon. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The federal government is giving Utah big money to build wildlife crossings above or below busy and deadly interstates.

The Utah Department of Transportation will receive a nearly $5.5 million grant to build three wildlife underpasses near Kanab as part of the US-89 Safety Corridor Project.

The area has seen 72 wildlife-vehicle collisions in the last 5 ½ years, including one fatality, UDOT reports.

In December 2018, UDOT unveiled the largest wildlife overpass in Utah. Spanning 320-by-50 feet, the bridge towers over all six lanes of I-80 in Summit County. It allows moose, elk, raccoons, and deer to migrate safely across.

Do wildlife bridges work as intended? 

Matt Howard, UDOT’s natural resources manager, told KSL NewsRadio that his department places video cameras on both sides of a proposed crossing and waits for wildlife.

 

“If they decide to cross, we call that a success,” he said,  “and if they approach it and, for whatever reason, they decide it doesn’t look safe enough or it scares them, and they decide not to use that, we call that a failure.”

Howard added UDOT’s success-vs.-failure ratio for wildlife crossings is about 90%.

How to train wildlife to use crossings

Fencing is used to funnel wildlife toward crossings, Howard said. 

“Over time they will start to train their young. And so then we’ll notice a multi-generational effect where the animals just go straight to the crossing,” he said. “They don’t have to find it anymore [and] becomes part of their regular-movement patterns and just part of their commute.”

Vehicle-wildlife collisions

Howard said UDOT employs contractors to travel freeways and highways to remove the carcasses of dead animals. The contractor marks the location where the collision occurred; that information is entered into a state database.

“It helps us identify areas where there are hotspots with collisions,” he said.

Drive safely at dawn and dusk

Most collisions between vehicles and deer occur during their mating season or rut in October and November. 

“They’re not paying much attention to anything else. Dawn and dusk are really the scariest times to be driving because that’s when wildlife is the most active, and it’s when humans have the least visibility,” Howard said.

In the United States, there are more than 1 million automobile accidents per year involving wildlife, racking up more than $8 billion in medical costs and vehicle repairs, as reported by the National Geographic.

 Automobile collisions kill more than a million animals every day, making them the leading cause of death for many vertebrate species, according to some estimates.”

 

Related: UDOT begins Bangerter Highway construction to improve traffic flow

 

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Wildlife

lake powell shown, invasive fish causing issues...

Adam Small

Water managers releasing cold water from Lake Powell to fight invasive fish

The Bureau of Reclamation has started strategic cold water releases from Lake Powell to fight invasive fish further down the Colorado River.

10 hours ago

Utahns are taking to the hills to find cooler temps. However, DWR is sending a message: steer clear...

Andy Cupp

When it comes to mountain goats, DWR says keep your distance

Utahns are taking to the hills to find cooler temps. However, DWR is sending a message: steer clear of the mountain goats.

8 days ago

Wildlife Center of Salt Lake...

Josuee Sanchez, Reporter

Wildlife Center of Salt Lake looking to expand

Struggling to keep up with the intake of animals, the Wildlife Center of Salt Lake is looking to expand.

9 days ago

A cougar is pictured. A new lawsuit says Utah's law that allows yearlong cougar hunting could lead ...

Adam Small

Wildlife officials recommend no changes to Utah cougar hunting law

According to Utah wildlife officials, the cougar hunting law that went into effect last year has resulted in the same number of animals being hunted.

11 days ago

(FILE) - A coyote standing on the road in Sugar House Park in January, 2022....

Michael Houck, KSLTV.com

Reports of multiple pet deaths in Avenues neighborhood, prompts coyote warning

The Salt Lake County Animal Service warns people to keep indoor pets inside, after recent coyote sightings.

12 days ago

FILE: As the temperatures warm into triple-digits, wildlife officials remind those who feed humming...

Simone Seikaly

Care for your hummingbird feeder as temperatures rise

The hummingbird feeders are out and filled with sugar water, now what? A Utah wildlife expert shares how often the feeder should be cleaned.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Feds give Utah $5.5M to build wildlife crossings near Kanab