Tally Signs (January 2010)

by June Sparks, Idaho Transportation Department

“Give Deer & Elk a Brake” signs to go up along Idaho 21 Wednesday (Jan. 6) to warn motorists about wildlife/vehicle collisions

Boise — On Wednesday (Jan. 6), Idaho’s first wildlife/vehicle collision “tally signs” will go up along Idaho 21 between Lucky Peak Reservoir and Robie Creek at mileposts 10 and 21. The tally signs – featuring the message “Give Deer & Elk a Brake” – will be updated regularly to inform the public about the number of known vehicle-wildlife collisions to date each year on that stretch of roadway.

Photo by Scott Rudel

The tally signs are the result of a two-year collaborative effort by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), the City of Boise, Ada and Boise Counties, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and members of the public to improve the safety of motorists and wildlife alike.

“By installing the tally signs we hope that motorists will be reminded of the danger every time they pass it,” said IDFG Conservation Officer Marshall Haynes.

Every year wildlife migrate to and from their summer range in the high country to their winter range on the Boise River Wildlife Management Area and in the foothills. And each year, between the intersections of Warm Springs Avenue and Robie Creek along Idaho 21, 75-100 collisions with mule deer, and 5-10 collisions with elk are recorded.

“On average it costs the public about $8,000 for each deer/vehicle collision and $18,500 for each elk/vehicle collision, said ITD highway engineer Greg Vitley. The high number of wildlife/vehicle collisions on that stretch of roadway costs the public an estimated $750,000 to $1 million annually in insurance claims, deductibles, medical expenses, disability leave, lost wildlife resources and the lost man power and equipment resources caused by removal of the dead deer and elk by State of Idaho personnel.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY: The first sign will be installed at noon tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 6) at milepost 10, which is at Sandy Point/Discovery Park. Wildlife experts will be on hand to answer media questions regarding the signs’ purpose, and also to release information about the upcoming construction of a wildlife crossing underpass and game fence that will be built at milepost 18.2 in late spring. The goal of the wildlife crossing and fencing project is to provide a safe route under the highway for deer, elk and other wildlife, thereby reducing collisions and improving driver safety by keeping wildlife off of the roadway.

“Physically separating fast-moving vehicles and wildlife is the best way to protect both the traveling public and wildlife,” said Ed Bottum, manager of Fish and Games Boise Wildlife Management Area.

The site was selected based on known historic migration and habitat connectivity needs for deer, elk, and other wildlife which utilize the Boise River Wildlife Management Area, as well as topographic considerations. The $550,000 structure is another product of the group’s collaborative effort and will be paid for with federal stimulus enhancement funding.

Call June Sparks or Reed Hollinshead, ITD Public Information Specialists, at 334-8005 for more information, and to reserve a time for interviews. Video of wildlife crossing the highway will be distributed to media at that time.