USU research on animal overpasses produces positive data

LOGAN – Wildlife specialist Dr. Nicki Frey from Utah State University is the lead researcher on an interesting project that has made waves in news reports throughout the west the last couple months.

It focuses on animal crossing overpasses that have been seen in certain locations in Utah. The big test study has taken place in Parley’s Canyon, east of Salt Lake City, on an animal overpass over I-80.

On KVNU’s For the People program on Monday, Dr. Frey said these overpasses have been shown to work.

“Absolutely, they are phenomenal in their ability to help wildlife cross over these busy intersections and decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions.  They’ve actually been used all throughout Europe and in many areas in North America. And this isn’t the first overpass we have in Utah.  It’s just good timing to attract a lot of good positive stories,” Dr. Frey explained.

She said that particular interstate is so highly travelled and to see wildlife respond to an overpass so quickly was very exciting as these roads often carve through natural animal migration areas.

“There’s very few roads out there that don’t bisect some migration corridors, some travel route for a species. We’re lucky that most the time, the animals can find a way around it, but when you’re talking about a moose, or a deer, or an elk or a bear, when you hit that, that’s going to be damage to you and that animal.”

The research has shown 17 different species and even some birds have been seen crossing over.

Dr. Frey said that an overpass or an underpass could have real benefits to heavily travelled canyons in northern Utah, such as Logan and Wellsville canyons and the cost benefit analysis may have to look into that further even though an overpass is quite expensive to put in.

Audio: Dr Nicki Frey talks animal overpass research on For the People


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