AP NEWS

Idaho Transportation Department documents spark questions

February 6, 2019

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Newly published Idaho Transportation Department documents have sparked questions about the department’s plan to install wildlife detection devices along Targhee Pass.

The Idaho Wildlife Federation and other conservation groups have pushed for the transportation department to install wildlife crossings along the mountain pass on the Continental Divide in the Henrys Lake Mountains, the Post Register reported on Tuesday.

Department officials have not officially stated their plan but they favored the use of animal detection systems and warning signs in their environmental assessment released last month.

The documents posted by the Wildlife Federation last week include a survey of other animal detection systems throughout the U.S. and Canada that showed mixed success for the devices as well as a report from the state Department of Fish and Game that pushed for animal overpasses and fencing instead of the detection system.

The two reports argue that wildlife overpasses are more cost-effective over the long term because of their longer lifespan and increased effectiveness and a more reliable system to reduce collisions with animals along U.S. Highway 20. The Fish and Game assessment also claimed more dangerous conditions on the road — its report cited 30 large animal deaths along the road compared to the 16 listed by the state Transportation Department.

In its recommendation for an animal detection system in the environmental assessment, the Idaho Transportation Department’s listed reasons included the opposition to overpasses by Fremont County Commissioners and residents, the lack of easements needed for private land along the road and the higher rate of wildlife crashes elsewhere in the state.

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Information from: Post Register, http://www.postregister.com

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