clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Video footage proves wildlife bridge over I-80 is working

PARLEYS CANYON — Late last year, the Utah Department of Transportation built a large wildlife bridge over I-80 at Parleys Summit to cut down on dangerous automobile collisions with animals.

But when the overpass was opened for wildlife in December, officials with UDOT and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources were not certain it would work. But they now have video of animals finding their way to safe passage over the interstate.

Plenty of animals are using the $5 million bridge, staying out of traffic. Video images captured by the DWR show moose, deer and even mountain lions using the overpass.

A cougar crosses the wildlife bridge over I-80 in Parleys Canyon in this video from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
A cougar crosses the wildlife bridge over I-80 in Parleys Canyon in this video from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

“I was very pleasantly surprised,“ said Scott Root, conservation outreach manager with the DWR.

He said the overpass was designed to let animals cross safely and reduce the number of crashes with wildlife in Parleys Canyon, adding there was a lot of concern from residents about so many animals getting hit by cars.

“Again safety is our No. 1 priority,” Root said.

“The fencing along I 80 will help funnel those animals right into this spot, and they’ll head right up into that wonderful habitat and then back again,” he said.

Big game regularly cross I-80 between Mountain Dell and Jeremy Ranch. In the past two years, drivers have reported more than 100 wildlife-vehicle crashes, and it’s estimated the number of unreported collisions is four times that many.

A moose crosses the wildlife bridge over I-80 in Parleys Canyon in this video from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
A moose crosses the wildlife bridge over I-80 in Parleys Canyon in this video from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

UDOT does not yet have meaningful crash statistics since the overpass was installed. But the pictures let them know it’s working.

“It’s not something that they (the animals) adapt to suddenly,” said John Gleason, a UDOT spokesman. “We’re seeing results, and it’s an unexpected success to see results this early. We thought it would take potentially years for the wildlife to be familiar and to start using this bridge.”

Unfortunately, transportation officials have also spotted humans skiing, hiking and biking across the bridge. They’re begging people to stay away.

“Because wildlife will not pass,” Root said. “This fencing goes a long way down I-80, and if they’ve worked their way all the way up here and then there’s somebody here, we don’t want to stress out those animals anymore.”

Following the success here, UDOT officials said they may look for other places to install similar overpasses where crossings have been a problem.