Adding to a string of moose deaths that started last month, another cow moose was killed Aug. 3 in a vehicle collision near Rafter J.
Just before 10 p.m., Wyoming Highway Patrol responded to a call about the collision. A vehicle driving south on Highway 89 struck and killed the cow as she ran across the highway. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department removed the moose the next morning.
“It’s just really frustrating to have these things happen,” said Mark Gocke, public information officer for Game and Fish’s Jackson office. “Nobody wins in a situation like that.”
Game and Fish received a call from Highway Patrol about the collision close to midnight, but because the moose was killed on impact there was no need to immediately respond. A Game and Fish warden picked up the animal around 7 a.m. the following day, Gocke said.
At the time, the warden learned the cow had a calf with her who was uninjured and had moved away from the highway, Gocke said. The calf ran from the responding Game and Fish warden.
“There’s not a lot we can do besides give it a fighting chance,” Gocke said.
No one in the vehicle was injured in the crash.
Near Rafter J on Highway 89 is not typically a hot spot for moose collisions, Gocke said. It is more common for mule deer to be hit along Highway 89.
On August 5, Game and Fish responded to a vehicle collision with a mule deer on Highway 89 near the KOA campground, just north of Hoback Junction. The deer had a broken leg, so Game and Fish put it down, Gocke said.
Eighteen moose were hit in Teton County between May 2016 and April 2017. Of those, just two were hit along Highway 89.
Moose collisions are much more common at the intersection of Highways 22 and 390 and on Teton Pass. The collision is a reminder that wildlife cross the highways everywhere, Gocke said, even in places without signs warning drivers of their presence.
“It’s a reminder to drivers to be vigilant, especially at night,” Gocke said. “It’s a reminder to slow down.”
The volumes of wildlife and of traffic on the highways at night lead to the high number of collisions, said Andy Jackson, the Highway Patrol trooper who responded to the August 3 collision. Compared with other wildlife, moose are especially hard to see at night because of their dark color, he said.
“Our moose populations are kind of down as it is,” Gocke said. “So you just hate to hear of any of them getting hit.”