Highway 21 Wildlife Underpass is Working (with Photos)

As the scenic State Highway 21 snakes its way across the Boise Mountains, it also intersects another favorite travel route.

For millennia, mule deer and elk have traveled to and from low elevation ranges where they spend the winter, to mountain meadows where they grow fat each summer feasting on the rich vegetation found at higher elevations. In doing so, they must cross State Highway 21.

In recent years, from 75 to 200 or more mule deer and elk, crossing the highway between Boise and Robie Creek, have been killed by vehicles each year.

So far this spring, only one animal has died in the stretch with a recently completed wildlife underpass.

The underpass was completed in October on Highway 21 near milepost 18.2, at the site of a well-documented big game migration "funnel" and subsequent collision "hotspot." A bridge replaced the fill that had supported the road, opening this migratory corridor to deer and elk. By physically separating wildlife and motorists, the underpass now provides protection for both.

The second phase of this project involves building a wildlife fence on the east side of the road to direct deer and elk away from the highway and towards the underpass.

Federal stimulus money was used to build the bridge and part of the fence. But additional funding is still needed to complete the fencing project.

A group of local people working together to find ways to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions on our roads and highways worked with the Idaho Transportation Department to get the underpass built. The group's focus now is raising the money to complete the wildlife exclusion fencing to make the underpass even more effective than it has already been shown to be.

Dubbed the Boise River Wildlife Linkage Partnership, the group includes private citizens, business people, non-profits and city, county, state and federal representatives.

Underpass Photos (click for full-size):

Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo

Story cross-posted from IDFG Press Release, Highway 21 Wildlife Underpass is Working
Photos courtesy of Idaho Transportation Department