Idaho sportsmen and researchers from Utah State University are studying where to put tunnels or bridges to keep deer and other wildlife off Interstate 84.
Jack Oyler, vice chairman of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho and a member of a state committee dedicated to reducing wildlife collisions, is heading the study to analyze herd migration patterns near a 10-mile stretch of I-84 near the Utah border.
The Times-News reports that with the help of state agencies, he has raised $23,000 to install cameras along the interstate. Researchers from Utah State University will use the footage to determine where tunnels or bridges should be set up for the deer.
In 2010, there were more than 1,100 wildlife-vehicle crashes in Idaho.
The Idaho Transportation Department said tunnels and bridges are the best options to prevent collisions, but they’re also the most expensive. Fences can also be used to force deer to cross using existing underpasses. But collisions occur even in some areas where there are already fences.
“We need to raise the fences. Right now they’re too short,” Oyler said.
Even if there is an underpass for deer to use, it’s not unusual for a farmer to build a fence to prevent cattle from crossing under the road, Oyler said. If the fence isn’t left open during migration periods, deer can starve and die.
“Ever since the interstate was built, deer have been starving and or dying because they can’t cross the road. They don’t have enough options,” Oyler said. “The interstate was not built to consider mule deer crossing. … We have one year to study the cameras. Then we can start improving the numbers.”
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