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Building Bridges in Boundary County, Idaho

Wildlife Crossings
Did you know that wildlife crossing structures not only keep animals moving, but also they’ve been known to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions by up to 80%? That is a lot of saved lives.

Soon, one of the highways in Idaho’s Boundary County, which cuts off a critical wildlife linkage zone in eastern Cabinet-Purcell Mountains, will be reaping these benefits. Y2Y is leading the process.

From an idea to a reality

Last summer, Y2Y assumed a leadership role of a collaborative partnership to develop structures for vehicle-wildlife highway safety in Boundary County.

“We’ve had great success with Alberta and British Columbia’s Highway 3 mitigation project,” describes Wendy Francis, Y2Y’s Program Director. “We are thrilled that we can use the expertise from that project and apply it to Boundary County.”

The first phase of the highway assessment is complete. Ten years of  ‘crash and carcass’ removal data along the 75 mile (120 km) highway was analyzed and revealed that there were four wildlife-vehicle collision ‘hot spots’.

Grizzly Crossing
Highways cut the landscape and acts as a barrier to wildlife that are trying to move from one key habitat to the next. Photo Credit: Kent Nelson

“Now that we know where the collisions occur, how many and what animals are involved, we can determine which solutions make sense,” explains Francis.

We also conducted a cost-benefit analysis that evaluated the price tag of these collisions to society against the long-term costs of implementing one of a variety of possible safety measures. These measures include animal over- and underpasses, highway fencing, animal triggered lights and signage.

The next step in making this idea a reality will be working with the Idaho Transportation Department to incorporate safety measures in these ‘hot spots’.

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