Image Source: https://www.usatoday.com/
The first wildlife bridge in Utah is working as intended. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has proof.
A video shared by the department on Nov. 19 shows various animals — including deer, bears and bobcats — using the Parleys Canyon Wildlife Overpass, which spans Interstate 80 southeast of Salt Lake City.
“It’s working!” the department captioned the video.
The $5 million project “has been successful at helping wildlife safely migrate over busy Interstate 80 and helping motorists be much safer as well,” the DWR wrote.
The nearly 350-foot-long bridge, which opened in December 2018, is the first of its kind in the state, according to the Utah Department of Transportation. The bridge’s construction came after 46 deer, 14 moose, and four elk were killed on that stretch of highway in 2016 and 2017 alone.
UDOT spokesman John Gleason told the Salt Lake Tribune in 2019 that although the organization prefers to analyze data over 3-5 years, early results of the wildlife crossing were “encouraging.”
“From what we can tell, the number of accidents there is down dramatically,” he said. “At least initially, it appears the investment in safety is paying off. And we expected it to take several years before the animals got used to using it, so this is great.”
A 2008 federal study “estimated one to two million collisions between cars and large animals every year in the United States.”
Wildlife overpasses and underpasses have had similar success in other states, and thus have been growing in popularity.
Colorado’s only wildlife overpass has already proven to be a success. So have several in Montana.
And the world’s largest wildlife overpass is expected to open next year over California’s 101 Freeway, near the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The 165-foot-wide bridge will “span 210 feet over ten lanes of pavement” that is used by 300,00 vehicles a day, per the National Wildlife Federation.