Two moose were reportedly killed over the weekend in Teton County as members of the community are looking for lower speed limits on one of the byways where the deaths occurred.
Carla Watsabaugh, 75, was upset about the loss of one of the ungulates, a cow moose killed near Raven Haven Road on Highway 390, also known as N. Moose Wilson Road or, colloquially, “the Village Road.” The 53-year resident of that byway said she’d had a mother moose and her twin children living in her backyard for the past few months.
“I was in tears this morning,” she told the Jackson Hole Daily. “I don’t know if it was one of the twins or the mama.”
The Jackson Hole Daily received reports that another moose was killed near the Jackson Hole Airport, but was unable to confirm that with Wyoming Highway Patrol by press time. Tipsters had speculated that the moose killed in Grand Teton National Park was a bull moose known as Shoshone, but wildlife photographer and Best of the Tetons blogger Mike Jackson told the Daily on Sunday that he believed the moose reportedly killed in the park was a different animal.
“He’s alive and well,” Jackson wrote in an email. “I photographed him this morning after I heard a report of a moose getting hit.”
The two reported moose deaths came at the tail end of a summer that saw at least one other moose perish along 390. A cow moose died in a mid-August accident near where the speed limit changes from 45 miles an hour in the daytime to 55 miles an hour. That’s just before the foliage on the east and west sides of the road opens up to views of the Snake River Ranch’s pastures.
That incident had neighbors and local wildlife advocates up in arms, and led the Teton County Board of County Commissioners to request on Aug. 31 a speed study on 390 — the first step in getting such a study done.
Highway 390 and its southern intersection with Highway 22 have long been in the spotlight as a place where wildlife and vehicles have collided.
Data presented by Wyoming Game and Fish at a July county meeting show that the 22-390 intersection, just south of Raven Haven Road, is a hot spot for moose crossings. Two wildlife crossings, funded in part by specific purpose excise tax, or SPET, funds approved by voters in 2019 are being planned for that intersection to facilitate safe travel for motorists and safe road crossings for moose and other mammals that frequent the riparian area.
The speed on 390 itself was reduced in 2012 to 45 miles per hour during the day and 35 miles per hour at night. More recently, flashing speed signs have been installed, the Village Road Coalition has paid for moose silhouettes to go up along the byway, and neighbors have put up handmade signs of their own urging people to slow down.
But Renee Seidler, the executive director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, argued at an Aug. 24 County Commissioners meeting that more needs to be done.
“There’s still clearly issues on Highway 390,” she said: “traffic density, traffic speed, speeding, wildlife vehicle conflict, and a lack of landscape permeability for the wildlife in the area.”
She called for creating a highway corridor plan for 390, or updating it if one already exists. In her mind, that would include an in-depth review of collision data to answer whether speeding drivers are more often involved in crashes involving wildlife and vehicles, as well as whether the drivers involved are more often visitors or locals.
“These things may help us to hone an outreach and education effort,” she said, adding that the Wildlife Foundation would also support speed reduction where appropriate, increased traffic enforcement, looking into traffic calming efforts, and, potentially, additional signage on the northern end of the road.
Neighbors said they’re looking for help slowing the killing of megafauna they see as crucial for tourism and, by extent, the valley’s economy.
“If you’re going to take pictures of these moose and they’re part of your quality of life,” 30-year 390 resident Crawford McIntosh told the Daily, “then keep them alive.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated how long Carla Watsabaugh had lived on Village Road. She has lived there for 53 years. — Ed.