As winter weather brings on a winter wonderland, it also increases the movement of big game, namely mule deer, elk, and moose. Animals will migrate to lower elevations where there is usually less snow, warmer temperatures, and available vegetation for browsing and thermal cover. To get to their winter ranges, animals often have no choice but to cross roads, highways, and interstates—sometimes crossing back and forth at a particular spot each day.
As you hit the roads for your holiday travels, keep the following tips in mind to help avoid collisions with wildlife.
- Though animals will cross roads almost anytime during the day or night, be extra cautious when driving during morning and evening hours when animals are most active.
- Drive slower in those areas you know are hotspots for animal crossings. That includes neighborhoods where residential and urban areas overlap with wildlife habitats.
- Pay attention to wildlife crossing signs and electronic reader boards. They are there for a reason!
- Where you see one deer or elk, there are likely others! Don’t forget to watch for stragglers that jump out at the last minute. Animals stopping in the road or even looking back as they cross is often a sign that other animals are close behind.
- When slowing down to avoid wildlife on or near the road, use your flashers to warn other motorists of your decreased speed and potential dangers of crossing animals.
- If you are a homeowner, help keep motorists safe by not feeding deer or other big game. Animals will cross the road to get to the food you leave, putting themselves and motorists at risk.
Please report roadkill online via Idaho Fish and Game’s Roadkill and Salvage webpage. Reporting roadkill gives Fish and Game and the Idaho Transportation Department information to help prevent wildlife losses and make highways safer. Note that some roadkill can be salvaged, including deer and elk. Use the same webpage to find out which species are salvageable and the mandatory reporting requirements to follow.
Remember, safe and cautious driving habits protect both wildlife and YOU!