Watch Animals Safely Cross Utah’s First Wildlife Overpass

5 mins read

Interstate 80 in Utah was one of the state’s most dangerous roadways for animals. Over just two years, 122 deer, 13 moose, four elk, and three mountain lions were killed in the worst part of the area, dubbed Slaughter Row, because it stretched for 13 miles along the roadway.

Unfortunately, the state’s largest wildlife overpass, built in this location in 2018, is not yet operational, but it is showing signs of success.

Even though wildlife experts predicted that animals would not begin using the structure for several years, recent footage from the Utah Division of Wildlife shows that they are using the building far sooner than planned.

So, how do the animals determine when it’s safe to proceed across the bridge? On both sides of the roadway, three and a half miles of fencing direct animals to the bridge and prevent them from crossing into undesirable areas.

The fencing was built as part of Utah’s earlier efforts to avoid animal deaths. It was constructed before the overpass was built. The non-profit Save People, Save Wildlife was established in 2015 to find traffic safety solutions.

The group collaborated with the Utah Department of Transportation to successfully raise $100,000 for the fence. After realizing that animals would wander along the fence until they discovered an opening through which to cross, the crew worked to ensure that the animals could do so safely and securely.

Photo: Screenshot from Utah Division of Wildlife Services Video

It was never an easier assignment to design the wildlife bridge and the surrounding fencing. The Utah Department of Transportation collaborated with the Utah Division of Species Resources to better understand the migratory patterns of local wildlife.

Planning around these natural paths made it more likely that animals would choose to cross in the designated area and that they would eventually come to trust the passageway.

It was also required research to determine how the bridge should be designed. Should it be completely devoid of obstructions to ensure the quickest crossing?

Do you think it should be covered in grass so that it blends in with the surrounding forest? It was determined that a natural landscape was more likely to attract wildlife than a constructed landscape.

Based on the Facebook video posted by the Utah Division of Wildlife, as well as the creatures captured in the screenshots below, it appears that the designers made the right choice. Bears, deer, elk, and various other creatures appear to be at ease investigating the logs and boulders that dot the overpass’s landscape.

The new video evidence demonstrates that the bridge is already averting accidents and saving daily animal and human lives. The state will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the changes in a few more years to quantify the improvement and determine how many lives have been saved due to its construction.

New video footage of Utah’s largest wildlife overpass demonstrates that animals are making use of the structure, which allows them to escape being hit by oncoming vehicles. In the end, this saves the lives of both animals and humans.

Slaughter Row was a 13-mile stretch of Utah’s I-80 that claimed the lives of 122 deer, 13 moose, four elk, and three mountain lions in just two years. It was the worst stretch of the state’s I-80 and was nicknamed Slaughter Row.

Earlier this year, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) teamed together with the Utah Division of Species Resources to better understand the migratory patterns of local wildlife.

The state will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the changes in a few more years to quantify the improvement and determine how many lives have been saved due to its construction.

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