January 27, 2011

Each year more than 3,000 pronghorn and mule deer travel from their winter range in the Green River Basin and summer range in the surrounding valleys and foothills – twice. (This includes members of the Teton pronghorn herd, who undertake the longest known land animal migration in the continental U.S. when they move 170 miles to summer in Grand Teton National Park.) Fortunately, now they’ll get some help with the hike!

The Wyoming Department of Transportation recently announced a $9.7 million effort to build a series of wildlife crossing structures to protect the four-legged travelers. The project, dubbed “Path of the Pronghorn,” is located on Highway 191 west of Pinedale, and includes two overpasses on a 12-mile section of US 191 from the Trappers Point area.

Engineer John Eddins of Rock Springs says on average 100 big game animals are hit on this particular roadway each year. And according to High Country News’ Emilene Ostlind, “Often, the still lump of a pronghorn carcass lies on the shoulder of the highway.” Sadly, they are among an estimated 1.5 million animals – and 26,000 people – involved in wildlife-vehicle collision across the U.S. annually.

Although large species like elk and moose have been known to use underpasses (as seen here), antelope are reluctant to pass beneath busy roads. They rely on their eyesight to keep them safe, and tend to avoid the often dark passageways. So while the underpasses will transport deer safely across the highway, the overpasses proposed at Trappers Point were designed with pronghorn in mind.

Learn more:

Earlier this week, Defenders’ expert Trisha White joined host June Stoyer to discuss the dangers of what happens when habitats and highways collide on The Organic View. Click here to download the interview!

Read our “Top 10 Tips for Drivers“ to see how YOU can reduce your risk of getting in an accident with wildlife.


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