This year Wyomingites celebrated their first Wyoming Public Lands day! The Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s Cody Field Office curated a Wyoming Public Lands Day Event, at a unique parcel of public land commonly known as Beartooth Ranch or sometimes “the drug ranch.” The Beartooth Ranch harbors pristine wildlife habitat and access to blue-ribbon fishing.
As we all know, Wyoming is a rural state connected by extensive roads that we all travel to conduct business, recreate, and stay connected with friends and family. And if you drive these roads regularly, there is a good chance that you may hit an animal one day - and likely know someone who already has.
We’ve all seen too many dead animals on the side of the road. Just this past week our community witnessed two young moose that were hit and killed at the intersection of Wyoming highways 22 and 390.
In Teton County it is estimated that over 500 animals a year are killed on our roads. A history of development within wildlife habitat has left land cross-sectioned with roads, creating a danger for our wildlife and for ourselves and our families. In Wyoming, 1 in 5 collisions involve wildlife, 1 in 50 collisions with injuries involve wildlife, and 1 in 100 fatal collisions involve wildlife. These are real dangers for the safety of our highways, but the good news is they are largely preventable.
Photo Jackson Hole EcoTours
As the tranquilized moose snored away, GYC Wildlife Program Coordinator Chris Colligan supported her massive head and monitored her breathing while she was fitted with a new GPS-tracking collar. A former Wyoming Game and Fish (WGFD) employee, Chris is no stranger to working with wild animals. What is relatively new to Chris is all the progress being made to incorporate wildlife crossings on roads around the state of Wyoming and beyond.
After years of hard work and collaboration, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has finally released a license plate that benefits wildlife migrations and driver safety. The majority of the license plate fee goes directly to the Wildlife Conservation Fund to aid efforts throughout the state.
As much as I look forward to hitting my beloved backcountry runs, I know this is also a really hard time for wintering wildlife like bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and moose. Popular canyon spots on the west side of the Tetons (including Fox, Darby, and Teton Canyon) are important areas for wintering wildlife and will be closing to winter recreation on Thanksgiving – except for travel on designated routes. And I’m okay with that, because there are lots of other places I can ski.