US 93 Preliminary Post Construction Wildlife Crossing Structure Monitoring

With the majority of US 93 Evaro to Polson (The Peoples Way) reconstruction work on the Flathead Indian Reservation nearly complete, the Tribal Wildlife Management Program is now moving into the next phase of assuring the highway is fitting into the landscape and Spirit of Place. The Peoples Way project set a new standard for maintenance of movement migration opportunities for wildlife near highways. To ensure that these measures are working, monitoring of the wildlife crossing structures for wildlife use is paramount.

A small-scale, preliminary post-construction wildlife monitoring project is currently underway as a cooperative study between Montana Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Western Transportation Institute. A small number of motion-sensing animal detection cameras and animal tracking beds have been installed to monitor wildlife crossing structures and their use by wildlife. Previous crossing structure studies have shown that while some wildlife species will use the crossing structures immediately, others take time to find and trust the passage.

Through these initial monitoring efforts, biologists are finding that numerous species are using the crossing structures, and some species are using them as regular travel corridors within their home ranges. The Tribal Wildlife Management Program and the other agency partners are currently seeking funding to conduct a large scale, post -construction monitoring effort to begin in 2010.

Part of the success of wildlife crossing structures comes from animals having a sense of security while approaching or crossing through the structures. Increased public presence or use of the crossing structure could lead to some individuals or entire species avoiding the crossing structures thus not using them for safe passage across the highway. We appreciate your enthusiasm, but please avoid entering the wildlife crossing structures.

Enjoy the photos! You are free to use them in presentations or publications, please display the citation on the photo if you do!

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Highways & Wildlife
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