By Kyle Kissock | Communications Manager
Wildlife-Fencing Project Completed
The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) recently completed the installation of “wildlife-fencing” along S. Highway 89 from South Park Loop Road to Munger Mountain Elementary School.
This general stretch of highway is a well-known hotspot for wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs), primarily due to the combination of high traffic volume and proximity to high-quality habitat for elk and mule deer, species which both utilize the nearby Snake River corridor.
The goal of the new wildlife-fencing is to keep animals off the road and funnel any would-be highway crossers towards a series of wildlife underpasses.
Drivers can spot these underpasses in three locations: just north of the waste transfer station, under Flat Creek bridge, and under the Snake River bridge (on both sides of the river).
To assist any animal that might wander onto the road and find itself trapped between the parallel fence lines, “jump-outs” have also been constructed along the highway to enable wildlife to safely escape the roadway without the ability to re-enter.
Know the Danger Zones
While the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation is optimistic about the new fencing decreasing WVCs within the fenced zone, we’re still asking motorists to expect wildlife on the roadway while traveling on S. Highway 89. In fact, the possibility exists for a potential increase in animal-crossing activity in certain areas, especially where the wildlife-fencing comes to an end.
This is because when an animal encounters the new fence near its northern or southern limit it will likely follow the new barrier until its first available crossing opportunity.
This opportunity will either be an underpass within the fenced zone, or the end of the wildlife-fence depending on the direction the animal choses to travel.
These new “danger zones” exist near the Munger Mountain Elementary School (southern fence terminus) and the intersection of Highway 89 and South Park Loop Road (northern fence terminus).
For the time being, travelers south of town will notice WYDOT has placed digital message boards at each of these locations to alert drivers of this exact issue.
Motorists should also be aware that the 3-mile stretch of Highway 89 from South Park Loop Road to High School Road (an existing WVC hotspot area) remains unfenced. It’s possible this stretch may also experience an increase in wildlife road-crossings as animals are inadvertently directed north by the new wildlife-fencing.
With the completion of this S. Highway 89 wildlife-fencing project and the possibility of significant wildlife-crossing funding through the SPET ballot, it’s exciting time for innovative wildlife-crossing solutions here in Teton County.
Let’s just remember to remain vigilant and give wildlife a break where underpasses and wildlife-fences aren’t, especially as we enter migration season in late fall and early winter!
Note: If you are a Nature Mapper, we encourage you to submit sightings of roadkill on S. Highway 89 to help us understand the effects the new wildlife-fencing