Posted: Oct 23, 2012 1:32 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
Updated: Oct 25, 2012 3:23 PM
MISSOULA- This can be a pretty dangerous time of year on the roads of Montana. It's not just the quick-changing weather that can pose problems for drivers, animals moving down into the valleys and closer to traffic is also an issue.
There's an increased risk of wildlife collisions during the fall season, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is reminding motorists to exercise extra caution.
"We have more animals moving around and decreased visibility during key drive times, so right now is the time to be extra alert for wildlife on our roads," says Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager.
Thompson says that it is a combination of cooler weather, mating season and hunting pressure in the fall that alters wildlife movement and prompts more activity in the valleys near roadways.
FWP points to four examples of spots where vehicle and wildlife movements have intersected recently.
These include elk and deer crossing U.S. Highway 93 between Lolo and Florence, elk crossing Interstate 90 in the Jens area east of Drummond, and bighorn sheep on the shoulders of Montana Highway 200 between Plains and Thompson Falls and just outside of Bonner.
Wildlife officials report that despite some new warning signs, a dozen elk have been hit by vehicles on the stretch of road south of Lolo since December of last year.
Thompson says this spot is particularly attractive to animals looking for a passageway between timbered mountainous areas and fields west of Highway 93 and the water and vegetation along the river, east of the highway.
"Traffic is heavy with commuters on this stretch of roadway at dawn and dusk when animals are moving between bedding sites and feeding areas," Thompson says. "Even if the lighted roadside warning signs go away, this is an area where motorists should use extra caution."
FWP officials say that If you do hit a deer, elk or other big game animal, remember that it is against the law to possess or transport the animal, or any portion of it, including the antlers.