Environmental Advocacy Group Urging Yellowstone Officials to Focus on Reducing Roadkill
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. − Jeff Ruch, executive director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said park officials are widening too many roads, which leads to higher speeds and more wildlife killed. He said other parks have systems that alert drivers to wildlife on roadways.
"The planning is around road construction," Ruch said. "They don't have kind of a comprehensive policy, even though it is by far the largest source of (wildlife) mortality."
An average of 103 mammals weighing more than 30 pounds have been killed each year from 1989 to 2003 due to vehicle collisions in Yellowstone. The total includes 566 elk, 456 mule deer and 192 bison, Yellowstone officials said.
Yellowstone spokeswoman Cheryl Matthews said most roads in the park have a 45 mph speed limit and areas where roads are being upgraded have a lower wildlife mortality rate because the construction improves visibility.
Matthews said the park has experimented with crossing sensors that would alert motorists with flashing lights if wildlife stepped onto the roadway, but technical problems halted the effort.
Ruch said more research needs to be done on the effect of roads on wildlife.
"The way they treat roadkill, they treat it like the weather," he said. "It gets better or worse, and they don't know why, and there's nothing they can do about it."
Source: Associated Press