Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 saw increase in wildlife collisions

Sheriff, ITD and school groups working toward solutions


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Vehicle-versus-wildlife encounters became more frequent on state Highway 75 in Blaine County in 2012. Efforts are now under way to protect animals such as these elk that live in the East Fork area. Photo by Mountain Express

Though motorists have been killing deer, elk and even moose on state Highway 75 for years, the number of encounters with the animals seemed to jump in 2012. Increasing also was public awareness of the issue and attempts to mitigate the number of vehicle-versus-wildlife accidents.

The humans involved in these collisions are not usually injured, but the encounters are almost always fatal to the animals.

“Absolutely it’s up,” said Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey. “I think I’ve seen more this year than I have in the past throughout the valley.”

This past fall especially, the number of accidents seemed high, with anywhere from two to four collisions being reported to the Sheriff’s Office per week.

The Idaho Transportation Department is now actively seeking a solution to reduce the number of accidents and two Blaine County School District student groups took on projects in the fall to come up with solutions of their own.

The situation has now become a frequent topic of discussion with the Blaine County Regional Transportation Committee, with the group agreeing that mitigating wildlife accidents should be a top highway funding priority for ITD.

Several options, such as building under-road animal migration tunnels for animals and imposing reduced nighttime speed limits on the highway, have been considered, but the sheriff and ITD are currently most favorable to installing electronic sensing systems in high animal-movement areas along the highway that would alert drivers with warning signs to slow down when large animals are near and might try to cross the roadway.

ITD is currently investigating the different types of systems and their applicability to Highway 75.

ITD officials earlier said under-road tunnels have been effective elsewhere for migratory animal herds but would not be as useful here because elk herds have established residency in the area, especially near East Fork, and are migrating back and forth across the highway too frequently. Construction of tunnels would also require long stretches of fencing to guide the animals to a tunnel.

Reducing speed limits to reduce collisions was supported by a Wood River High School physics class that studied the situation and determined that anyone driving 55 mph at night is unlikely to be able to stop in time if an elk or deer wander onto the highway. The class found that someone driving 40 mph would have adequate time to stop if an animal were spotted.

Some 90 Hailey Elementary School third-graders tackled the driver-awareness issue by producing and distributing bumper stickers that state “Keep them alive on 75.”

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads





Copyright © 2014 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.