LA BARGE — The Dry Piney wildlife crossing project, led by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, is now complete and big game animals are actively using the underpasses. The project includes nine underpasses and 17 miles of 8-foot tall fencing on both sides of U.S. Highway 189 to encourage big game, primarily mule deer and pronghorn, to use the underpasses and avoid wildlife-vehicle collisions.
The public is invited to join WYDOT and Game and Fish for a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Oct. 12.
This section highway has one of the highest wildlife-vehicle collision rates in Wyoming. It goes through the Wyoming Range, which serves as crucial winter range for one of the largest mule deer herds in the west. WYDOT numbers show from 2018-20 an average of 68 animal carcasses are picked up by maintenance crews.
The total project cost was $15.1 million, supported by the federal BUILD grant, Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and Wyoming Transportation Commission. Other supporters include the public, Sublette County, conservation organizations, private donors and landowners.
Underpasses are a proven asset in reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions, increasing motorist safety and preserving wildlife resources. Seven underpasses and 8-foot-high fencing along a 13.5-mile stretch of Wyoming Highway 30 west of Kemmerer resulted in an 81% reduction in deer-vehicle collisions after three years. Another project on U.S. Highway 191 near Pinedale with underpasses, fencing and two overpasses eliminated pronghorn collisions after three years, and mule deer collisions dropped by 79%.
Wyoming has identified 240 projects statewide to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. An online map depicting high-collision sections of roads across Wyoming can be found on the Game and Fish website.