Your driving is our wildlife’s worst problem
By Paul Bruun, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: November 28, 2012
A handsome white Suburban raced up behind me at the new Hoback roundabout. I chuckled that it had to be from Utah. Such types revel in the reckless, short-straightaway passing opportunities frequently available in the Snake River Canyon. Speed-limit-driving twits like me seem to make Beehive Staters a touch impatient. Whenever driving to Alpine, I can easily see why our highway patrol happily targets such lead-footed motorists.
My Dodge Ram Hemi continued strolling along at the 55 mph speed limit as I mused how our neighbors mow down as much of their big game as possible before traveling up here to extend the roadkill season. The big Chevrolet smoked past me right before the Evans Trailer Park on U.S. 89.
“How about that?” I mumbled, sadly noticing a Wyoming 22 license plate and Jackson Colts rear window sticker on the Suburban.
When hunting pals wonder why area deer herds are declining, I mention they only have to follow the feasting ravens and magpies along our roadways to recognize part of the answer. For more dramatic proof, take a glimpse at auto body shop parking lots.
Now is the time when big game migrations and some mule deer ruts are under way, making most highways more dangerous than normal. Nighttime driving raises the chances of animal-vehicle collisions because of poor visibility and increased game activity.
Even the most convincingly written columns won’t make drivers slow down, pay more attention and dedicate themselves to conservation safety of wild game. Such motivation must come from within.
My task is to heighten awareness of those who truly care about wildlife of all kinds. Lets hope these educated drivers will accidentally infect others who talk a good game about the importance of Wyoming wildlife, even as they continue to drive like hell — like that speedy local white Suburban pilot I observed.
After a 45-minute pause for storage shed maintenance, my journey continued to the downtown post office. Parked on Pearl Avenue across from Frank Londy’s Twin Cinema was the same Suburban. Speeding is excusable, I always say, in order not to miss a minute of “Skyfall,” the latest Bond episode.
Al Langston, the ageless public information wrangler for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, on Nov. 19 offered an educational news release, “Speed Kills — Slow Down to Avoid Wildlife Collisions” (WGFD.wyo.gov), that outlines a number of thoughtful ways drivers can minimize vehicle-wildlife crashes. Those who log many highway hours will realize they may already be familiar with most of the safety suggestions. Langston includes welcome reminders about areas that attract animals, that there is rarely only one deer and how your bright lights may blind and confuse animals.
The basic key to helping yourself and animals survive: Slow down!
Since the 45 mph nighttime speed limit has been installed on the main highway through Grand Teton National Park, more drivers than I expected are slowing down. The ones who refuse really stand out like sore thumbs. Many of these speeders have out-of-state plates or are airport rentals.
Consistent, safe navigation through wildlife-rich surroundings demands constant vigilance. An alert passenger’s help is always welcome. Repeatedly sounding the horn (day or night) is my No. 1 defense to deter animals from making a sudden move into my vehicle’s path. It may take several blasts, but antelope, deer and elk usually respond by reversing direction. Coming to a stop is the only solution when buffalo march into the highway.
Because my truck is usually towing a boat, slowing down is important because stopping distances are increased. Legally traveling 45 mph through elk, buffalo, antelope and deer migration routes is common sense. It’s a practice I try to maintain, especially later in the season and throughout winter on all the valley highways, regardless of how many speedy Suburbans are riding my bumper.
Pay attention, slow down and save a wild life.
Jackson Trout Unlimited mixer Dec. 11
The answer is “Flat Creek.”
So what’s the question?
Learn more about plans for a new stream enhancement project facilitated by Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited and other cooperating agencies. Get the scoop at the Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited 2012 winter member mixer scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at Q Roadhouse.
According to Darren Kleiman, Jackson Hole Troute Unlimited president, speakers describing future project plans will include Ryan Colyer or Tom Campbell from Biota Research, Wyoming Game and Fish habitat biologist Lara Sweeney, and Paul Santavy, deputy manager of the National Elk Refuge. The event features a cash bar and appetizers.
For information call Kleiman at 690-7642 or email email@example.com.
Idaho installs 3-year fish regs
Beginning Jan. 1, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission’s fishing seasons and rules brochure will cover three years rather than two. The change comes after 11 months of public interaction and responses to an angler survey conducted in 2011. The new fishing rules will be valid from 2013 through 2015.
Obviously the extended rules program will save Fish and Game time as well as extra printing expenses, an important management decision om today’s economy. The rules brochures will be available at all license vendors and on the agency website before January.
My literate neighbor and fellow News&Guide columnist Doreen Tome remains carefully guarded about how and why her entertaining “JH Senior” columns often feature obscure landmarks such as Glendo and Brooks Lake.
“Wouldn’t readers enjoy knowing that your retired UPS delivery agent and fishing-fanatic husband Dennis drags you to these garden spots?” I ask during our street corner confabs.
“Oh, Dennis won’t allow me to mention his name in the columns,” Doreen admitted during the summer.
So when I noticed that Jeff Kirk, of Douglas, set a new state record of 2 pounds with a 17-inch gizzard shad from — where else? — Glendo Reservoir, I knew the news would thrill Doreen, the only person who could find positive attributes to describe this barren southeastern Wyoming area.
Gizzard shad are a prolific baitfish added to Platte River system waters such as Glendo, to sustain the nonnative but popular walleye fishery.
Paul Bruun writes weekly on his adventures and misadventures in the great outdoors.