Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

ID: Cell phones, satellites help prevent wildlife/auto collisions

Countless cell phones on the ground and 24 satellites, orbiting
12,550 miles up in the sky and connected by the Internet, are part
of a project in Island Park to help decrease vehicle collisions,
resulting in deaths of wildlife and humans.

The joint project with the Idaho Department of Transportation,
Idaho Fish and Game and the Wildlife Conservation Society will
combine observations collected through the tracking efforts of
volunteers with highly specific data collected by Global
Positioning System satellites from radio collars. This information
will be combined with images and information from the public on the
Internet to help understand wildlife behavior better around
roadways and to identify landscape features that create successful
or unsuccessful crossing points along Highway 20 in Island
Park.

Last February, Fish and Game placed GPS collars on 30 cow elk
and 26 cow moose. Data has been collected to see where these
animals move back and forth across the highway. Volunteers have
patrolled the route to see what animals have been killed and where
un-collared animals crossed the road as well.

“The goal of this project is to not just indentify where animals
cross the highway, but the quality of the crossings,” University of
Montana graduate student Nick Sharp said. “We want to learn what
makes a good place to cross versus a place where animals end up as
road kills and automobiles are damaged.”

The study may also provide more insight into how various species
react to the noise and movement of traffic.

While state agencies and a private wildlife organization are
using a variety of methods to collect most of the information on
this project, the public can play an important role.

“Thanks to the new wildlife reporting website and the new
smart-phone technology, images collected by the public of wildlife
killed on the highway and live animals moving nearby can be
included in the project as well,” Sharp said.

The latest “smart” cell phones can automatically record the
location of pictures and transmit the information onto a specially
designed website.

The newly created Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System
website is available for the public to enter information about road
kills or sightings of live wildlife and upload GPS location tagged
pictures. This information will add another layer of “citizen
science” to tracking information already being collected by the
Idaho Master Naturalists, a cadre of volunteers trained to assist
in multiple facets of the project.

“Every year there are over 30 collisions between wildlife and
vehicles in this section of Highway 20,” Sharp said. “This
information collected during this joint project will be extremely
valuable to managers trying to determine ways to improve human and
wildlife safety not just along Highway 20, but elsewhere.”

To enter information and pictures about wildlife along Highway
20 create an IFWIS account at:
http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis.

 

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