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Wildlife Crossings Reduce Collisions And Save Lives

<p>Mule deer uses wildlife crossing.</p>

Oregon Department of Transportation


Mule deer uses wildlife crossing.

Producer: Vince Patton, Videographers: Todd Sonflieth, Corky Miller, Michael Bendixen, Editor: Michael Bendixen

Additional Photos & Video: Oregon Dept. of Transportation Oregon State Police, Parks Canada: Banff National Park

When deer need to get where they’re going, they often must conquer an obstacle course of fences and roads.

Miles upon miles of human made barriers snake across even the most wide-open landscape.

The deadliest obstacles they confront are dangerous, virtual walls of flying metal: highways full of high-speed traffic.

“You have stranded herds of animals,” says Kevin Halesworth, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Transportation. “As the traffic level increases, the deer are less able to cross the highway until it gets to a point where from studies, the deer just won’t cross at all any more. “

ODOT has a design in mind for a second crossing on highway 97 near milepost 190.

This time it’ll be a bridge disguised as naturally as possible over the cars.

Elk may prefer that design, as they seem reluctant to go under an overpass without a clear view of what’s beyond.

Says Halesworth, “Every animal that uses the crossing is a potential collision avoided as far as I’m concerned. That’s a good thing for humans and animals alike.”

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Vince Patton