The drive through Island Park may be safer this summer with a little help from the Idaho Transportation Department along with Idaho Fish and Game.
They’re using innovative technology to prevent traffic accidents that happen when wildlife wander across the road.
The project had a quiet start in February, when Idaho Fish and Game placed GPS collars on 30 female elk and 26 female moose.
“The collaring was the first aspect that needed to be done. We needed to see where the moose and the elk were going,” said IFG spokesman Gregg Losinski.
The collars have allowed officers to track animal movement across Highway 20 in the Island Park area.
“In two years, it will pop open and the whole collar will fall off,” said wildlife biologist Shane Roberts.
The goal is to create a comprehensive database of where wildlife cross the road, so drivers can be more aware of hot spots on Highway 20 from Ashton up to the Montana border.
So no data slip through the cracks, volunteers over the past few months have patrolled the route to see which un-collared animals have been killed on the roadway and where it’s happening.
“We have people, volunteers and Master Naturalists who go out on foot to scout the area to see if there’s other animals, because, of course, we didn’t collar all the animals that are up in Island Park,” said Losinski.
Losinski said this is an ongoing project and the public has a significant role to play in it.
The agencies have created the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System website, where, by the use of a smart phone, anyone can upload information about roadkills, sightings of wildlife and GPS location-tagged pictures.
If you log onto the website, you can see the exact parts of Highway 20 where accidents have happened, so you know where to slow down and be a little more cautious.
“Having the public giving us pictures is another layer, and when you put them all together it gives us some really comprehensive data and that’s what we need,” said Losinski.
It could be a great boon to a section of Highway 20 that averages 30 collisions between wildlife and vehicles a year, making your next drive through Island Park just a little safer.
If you’d like to check it out, click on this link.