Wyoming Roadkill Numbers On The Rise
Wyoming has done a lot to bring down the number of vehicle vs. animal collisions in the state, including migration bridges.
In some ways these efforts have been very helpful. Yet, some numbers are, unfortunately, still on the rise.
A new report by The Nature Conservancy of Wyoming shows wildlife–vehicle collisions are one the rise.
7,656 animals killed on Wyoming highways per year. That's a big number.
Around 5,500 are mule deer. Mule deer numbers are down as it is. The species does not need this.
“Collisions often result in costly vehicle damage and can lead to human injuries and death. They are almost always fatal for the animals. At the current rate, there are 21 big-game collisions every day in Wyoming, eight of which involve significant damage to vehicles and/or human injury.” said Dr. Corinna Riginos, director of science at The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming.
Deer–vehicle collisions, (not mule deer) averaged 6,651 per year. That's about 87% of total accidents.
Pronghorn collisions averaged 593 per year. That number might be lower than you expected.
Elk collisions averaged 253 per year.
Moose collisions averaged 69 per year.
“At this rate, we are losing about 1.5% of Wyoming’s mule deer population per year in wildlife–vehicle collisions. Since the reported numbers are a substantial under-count, we may really be losing 3% or more of Wyoming’s mule deer population per year in these collisions,”
Over the past 15 years, the numbers have doubled. So why the trend down, despite all of our best efforts?
Those are just the number that are reported.
As you can imagine many other kinds of animals are killed on our roadways.
“This is not to diminish the fact that roads often have a profound impact on a wider array of wildlife, including large and small carnivores, fish and fish passage, raptors, sage-grouse, reptiles and amphibians, small mammals, insects and more,” the report stated.
Addressing the effects of roads on these other species is beyond the scope of The Nature Conservancy report. However, it suggests any decisions about roads and wildlife should take into consideration potential impacts not just for big game, but also for other groups of animals.
The report noted that U.S. Highway 14A between Powell and Cody has one of the highest reported wildlife/vehicle accident rates in the state.
Wyo. Highway 120 near Meeteetse and U.S. Highway 20 near Worland and Thermopolis ranked around 16 accidents per mile.
For more information visit The Nature Conservatory Wyoming.