CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says that an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 25 between Kaycee and Buffalo has the second highest rate of vehicle-deer collisions in Wyoming.
During a Game and Fish Commission in Sheridan this week, the WYldlife Fund presented two donations to the commission for a wildlife crossing project for the 18-mile stretch along I-25.
The first donation was a $100,000 donation from the Knobloch Family Foundation. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund also provided a $125,000 grant to Game and Fish.
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“Wyoming artist Jenny Reeves-Johnson also made a donation from a special art series to raise awareness about wildlife-roadways issues of $1,600,” Game and Fish says.
Game and Fish and the Wyoming Department of Transportation provide an interactive map as part of the Wyoming Wildlife and Roadways Initiative. This map shows priority areas where wildlife collisions are a common problem.
The map has information showing that the stretch between Buffalo and Kaycee tends to experience high numbers of mule deer collisions in the late summer and fall.
The mule deer herds that are primarily impacted include the Upper Powder River herd and the Pumpkin Buttes herd. One of the issues in the area is that “late season green up on mowed shoulders of road attract deer.”
Game and Fish is working with WYDOT and the Western Transportation Institute to add fencing and underpasses in this area to help alleviate the collisions.
Game and Fish Commission President Pete Dube said that the donations toward the project are vital to the work Game and Fish does to address wildlife collisions.
“We do many projects for Wyoming’s wildlife, and rarely do we do it by ourselves,” Dube said in the department’s release. “These outstanding collaborations all add up with our partners for these accomplishments. This wildlife crossing effort is an initiative where everyone can get on board.”
Game and Fish says that 85% of vehicle-wildlife collisions in Wyoming are with mule deer, with up to 4% of the entire mule deer population in the state killed each year.
The department says that there is an average of $11,600 in injury and property damage costs associated with collisions. 15% of all crashes in the state involve collisions with wildlife.
“Annually, there are an average of 6,000 vehicle collisions with big game in Wyoming, resulting in $20-23 million in wildlife costs and $24-29 million in personal injury costs,” the department says on the Big Game Animal Migration website. “Game and Fish, as well as the Wyoming Department of Transportation and various wildlife and community groups, want to reduce those numbers by taking action to give wildlife the green light for safe passage.”