Hwy. claims 3rd moose
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
March 9, 2013
A motorist traveling on Hwy. 390 struck and killed a moose in the evening hours Thursday night.
It’s the third fatal vehicle-moose collision this winter.
The moose, an adult cow, was hit just north of where 390 intersects Nethercott Road, which is within a stretch that is known for being deadly for the lumbering ungulates.
At 7:45 p.m., presumably shortly after being struck, the moose was sitting erect at the side of the road, Wilson resident Deb Webb said. In the time it took for Webb to drive to her home on Nethercott to retrieve a cameraphone and return, the cow had expired, she said.
“She was as healthy as can be,” Webb said. “For late winter, she was gorgeous. I think we need to do more.”
Highway 390 has become something of a Teton County test zone for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. After nine moose were killed in the winter of 2010-11 and another six in 2011-12, the community organized and forged a plan to reduce collisions.
Nightime speed limits were reduced, roadside vegetation was cleared, moose silhouettes were erected along the roadside and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation donated two “RU2 Fast” radar signs.
Leigh Work, the wildlife foundation’s executive director, said it’s too early to say if the mitigation measures are responsible for the decrease in moose collisions.
“The general sense I get from the public is that the mitigation is helping to reduce the problem,” Work said. “But I still think from a scientific perspective we’d really want a couple more years to confirm a downward trend.”
Variables such as snow levels, moose populations and even residents feeding the animals all must be taken into account when assessing vehicle-related moose mortality, Work said.
Feeding wildlife, which has been re-ported in the area, is illegal in Teton County, she said.
Tom Campbell, another Wilson resident who drove by the dead cow Thursday night, agreed that more time is needed to determine if the 390 plan can be deemed a success.
“I saw [the cow] when I was driving to work, and it’s very depressing,” said Campbell, the president of Biota, a Jackson-based environmental consulting company. “These mitigation measures ... it’s a tough thing to analyze, especially in the short term. But I’m hopeful, and I’m optimistic, and it sure can’t hurt.”
Campbell had a suggestion for another mitigation measure to reduce moose-vehicle collisions: lighting the roadway. “They’ve done a great job with the speed signs and the removal of vegetation,” he said. “The third thing I think that they should be doing is adding lights. You’ve got these black animals that are on the road, and at night, and you just don’t see them.”