Audio Tour Aims to Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions
Thursday, September 1, 2022
More than 300 elk, deer, moose and other large animals are hit and killed on Teton County Roads each year.
Wildlife Highways in Teton County is a new audio listening tour which was recently launched to alert drivers to the risks of collisions. The app taps data collected by scientists, who have been tracking wildlife using GPS collars to identify where wildlife cross roads and highways.
Kristin Combs, executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, said because many collisions go unreported, the actual number is likely much higher.
"We kind of know where those areas are," Combs pointed out. "As you're traveling throughout the county, it prompts people to slow down in those corridors where we know animals are traveling, so that hopefully we're reducing rates of vehicle and wildlife collisions."
The audio tour is available for free on the TravelStorysGPS platform, and offers lively background to those yellow signs and slower speed limits on county roads. Combs said the goal is to share the magic of the area's incredible landscape and its many wild residents to visitors and locals alike who may not realize there are hotspots where wildlife are found at different times of the day and year.
Statewide, more than 7,000 animals are lost each year to wildlife-vehicle collisions. The total cost of wildlife-vehicle collisions is estimated to be $55 million per year, and Combs noted collisions also come at a high price for drivers.
"People are also injured," Combs emphasized. "If we think about the cost to insurance companies and to individuals, if you're hitting something like an elk or a moose, that's going to pretty much total your vehicle."
The audio tour was written by local resident and journalist Brigid Mander, who discovered after moving from the big city, safe driving inside a thriving ecosystem is far from an innate skill. Combs added the tour paints a picture of how wildlife cross roads to access important habitat.
"This is just one more tool that we can use to hopefully reduce the impact that people are having on wildlife," Combs explained. "And making sure that we're keeping these migration corridors open so that wildlife can continue to move across the landscape."
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