Program Launched To Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Conflicts
A new planning tool was announced last week by the Montana Wildlife and Transportation Partnership, aimed to help local groups identify areas of greatest need for decreasing wildlife-vehicle collisions and improving wildlife movement across state highways.
The Montana Wildlife and Transportation Partnership is a collaborative group of representatives from the Montana Department of Transportation, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage. Formed in 2019, the partnership recognized that reducing WVCs means finding ways to accommodate wildlife movement across highways. As a result, the partnership developed a statewide project application process for the public to propose collaborative, stand-alone wildlife accommodation projects within the state’s highway infrastructure.
Without action, this problem isn’t going away. Montana has one of the nation’s highest incidences of wildlife- vehicle collisions per capita. Each year, MDT maintenance crews collect more than 6,000 wildlife animal carcasses and more than 10 percent of all crashes in Montana result from wildlife collisions. Nationally, WVCs kill more than one million large mammals, cause hundreds of human fatalities, and lead to more than 26,000 injuries, all at an annual cost of nearly $11 billion nationwide.
To draw out these solutions, the Planning Tool can identify one- to two-mile state highway segments that may be candidates for wildlife accommodation projects upon further analysis. It has been built on various data sources that have been compiled, weighed, and ranked, representing five key criteria for identifying areas of need across the state.
The next application cycle is expected to be open from Nov. 1 to 30. MWTP will have one or two application cycles per year for the foreseeable future. The project selection process integrates information from the Planning Tool with other evaluation criteria and considerations.