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Wildlife crossings protect drivers and deer

State agencies are working to better protect drivers while also sparing wildlife on Utah roads. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV)- State agencies are working to better protect drivers while also sparing wildlife on Utah roads.

Across the state, there are 48 wildlife crossings meant to guide deer and other animals safely across busy highways. In turn, the crossings are protecting drivers and saving them thousands in car repair costs.

“It’s a substantial problem,” Daniel Olson, Utah migration initiative coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said.

According to UDOT, in 2017 Utah saw 2,996 animal-related car accidents. The year before, there were 3,198.

“Just over the past 20 to 30 years, the traffic volumes have doubled in the state and that causes us a lot of concern because it makes it more difficult for wildlife to move across roads,” Olson said.

UDOT and UDWR cameras placed around the wildlife crossings show they are working. At one crossing along U.S. 191 near Monticello, nearly 30 deer crossed there in one day. Olson said hundreds of deer cross along U.S. 89 along the Arizona border.

“A lot of times we’ll put 8-foot fencing on the side of the highway to prevent the animals from getting on to the highway, but the animals need to be able to move across the highway, especially if they’re migrating,” Olson said.

UDOT and UDWR plan to add more crossings. They are continuing to track deer to look for areas that need crossings most.

Right now, UDOT is working on a wildlife overpass along I-80 in Parleys Canyon. It’s one of the first overpass wildlife crossings in the state. That project is expected to get underway in December of this year.

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