Recent winter storms and colder temperatures have contributed to the movement of deer and elk to lower elevations throughout southeast Idaho. More animals are moving through urban/wildland interfaces, where they can be problematic for motorists in neighborhoods and on county roads. And, these animals are also crossing highways and interstates during these normal winter migratory movements.
Idaho Fish and Game cautions all motorists to please be careful when travelling the roads this winter-for both public safety and the safety of Idaho's wildlife. Collisions with wildlife can be reduced by following these steps:
- Be particularly wary of animals near the roads during early morning and early evening hours. Though animals can be on the road any time during the day or night, dawn and dusk tend to be popular times for animals on the move-and they can be particularly difficult to see during those times.
- Drive a little slower on county roads running through or near neighborhoods nestled in urban/wildland interfaces-like Johnny Creek or Mink Creek in Pocatello for example. Motorists should drive a little slower during the winter months anyway since winter conditions increase the time it takes to stop a vehicle and make it more difficult to control a vehicle when roads are slick.
- Be especially cautious when driving near farmland and livestock operations in more rural areas. These sites can be draws for deer and elk because of the haystacks and feed that can be found there.
- Pay attention to animal crossing signs and reader boards that are placed in hotspot areas along Idaho's roadways and highways. They are there for a reason!
- Don't drive with tunnel-vision. Look on the sides of roads for wildlife that are feeding or looking to cross and be prepared that they could run into traffic at any moment. If you observe animals crossing, remember: where you see a few critters, there are likely a couple of more that may cross at the last second. Watch for those stragglers!
- Often you will see eagles, ravens, crows and other wildlife feeding on carcasses of dead animals in the middle of the road or on the side. Please do not assume these animals can fly quickly as you approach in your vehicle. Birds that gorge on carrion can become so full, it is difficult for them to take flight, and they cannot always get out of the way of oncoming vehicles.
Idaho Fish and Game will continue to work on projects and efforts that will help reduce conflicts between wildlife and motorists-like the I-15 deer fence south of Pocatello or working with landowners to bait wildlife from roadways when necessary.
For more information on what is being done to work on wildlife road mortality issues in the state, visit http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/?getPage=205.