SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Department of Transportation have put up several structures across the state in 2022 to help wildlife migrate safely and subsequently reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Approximately 4,900 deer were killed in vehicle collisions in 2022, according to the Division. The number may be higher since many incidents go unreported. Some structures that help migration include overpasses, bridges, culverts, fences and “fish ladders,” which are mechanisms that provide a detour route for migrating fish over an obstacle.

Around 119 structures have been constructed throughout the states to allow the passage of wildlife and fish since 1975 when Utah made history for creating the first wildlife overpass in the U.S. on I-15 near Beaver.

The Division states that studies have shown implementing crossing structures and fences will reduce 90% of wildlife-vehicle collisions in an area.

“Deer typically follow the same migration routes every year,” said Blair Stringham, the Utah wildlife migration initiative coordinator. “Many of those routes intersect roadways, which the deer will often try to cross, regardless of traffic. However, simply putting up fences can limit the migration opportunities for deer and other wildlife, and it’s not possible to fence every stretch of highway across the state. So it is important to ensure the passage of wildlife in these areas through the installation of properly placed wildlife structures.” 

In 2017, the Utah Wildlife Migration Initiative was established to better track wildlife and study their migration patterns. The data mostly comes from animals wearing GPS tracking devices and fish tagged with implanted transmitters.

UDOT and DWR both installed six structures to help wildlife and fish migration last year:

Central Utah

Northern Utah

Northeastern Utah

  • The East Fork Carter Creek fish barrier on Carter Creek, located on the Uinta Mountains

Southeastern Utah

  • Electric fencing along U.S. Highway 10
  • Signage on U.S. Highway 95 and Highway 46