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Public Support Growing for Jackson Hole Moose Crossing

Since 2008, vehicles have killed 45 moose along Wyoming Highway 390. (John J. Mosesso/Wikimedia Commons)
Since 2008, vehicles have killed 45 moose along Wyoming Highway 390. (John J. Mosesso/Wikimedia Commons)
June 13, 2019

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Teton County commissioners and Jackson Town Council members heard public testimony earlier this week about what should be done to stop the deaths of moose and other wildlife, especially at the intersection of the Teton Pass Highway and Highway 22 along the Snake River corridor.

State officials estimate the current moose population is just 70 around the junction, and over the past two decades vehicles have killed 100 moose.

Jon Mobeck, executive director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, told officials the community should invest in its common vision of preserving and protecting the area's ecosystem.

"There's a responsibility that this community has as stewards on the outskirts of two of the nation's foremost national parks to make sure that we're doing everything we can to live compatibly with wildlife," he states.

Mobeck says public support for protecting wildlife was strong at the hearing on Tuesday, where people told officials it was deeply troubling to see moose, many who were frequent backyard visitors, end up as road kill.

Officials are taking public comments and suggestions until next Tuesday, when they are expected to determine which mitigation projects and funding mechanisms are placed on November's ballot.

Mobeck says traffic created by increased numbers of tourists, along with residents and workers, is making it increasingly difficult for moose, deer and elk to access habitat with food on the other side of the highway.

He says simple steps, including lowering speed limits and increasing lighting and signage to make drivers more aware of crossing sites, can lower the risk of collision.

"The best way to connect to those habitats and maintain those movements is to separate animals from the roadways by structure, by fences and underpasses, and where appropriate, overpasses," he states.

Two moose were killed at the Highway 390 and 22 intersection earlier this month.

Mobeck notes that hitting an animal as big as a moose or elk also is dangerous for people, and costly. It's estimated that each moose collision costs $51,000 in vehicular and bodily damage, agency response costs, and removing an animal with value as hunting game.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY