The best way to learn about restrictions on human activity in the vicinity of wildlife overpasses, underpasses, and fencing is to study existing structures. There are several reports about human activity in the vicinity of wildlife overpasses. One report is from Canada and another is from Washington State. Both reports teach us that human activity in the vicinity of overpasses and underpasses has a very negative impact on animal usage of the over and underpasses. In the Washington State case, the Forest Service actually closed a campground in the area to reduce human activity. The influence of human activity is also documented in information provided by conservation organizations. For example, Beckmann-Roberts-Cramer wrote: "Wildlife over- passes should be closed to the public and any other human activities and roads should not be on or near wildlife overpasses, as it will hinder wildlife use of the structure (Clevenger and Ford 2010). In addition, Tony Clevenger, Senior Wildlife Research Scientist, Western Transportation Institute, stated “Distance from humans is the most important consideration in designing crossing structures for large carnivores. The further the better.”
Curtailment of human activity in the Targhee Pass area of Island Park could threaten many existing activities. Consider that the snowmobile trail to Montana parallels Highway 20 from the Junction of Highway 87 to the Montana Stateline. This trail is used during the elk migration in December. Would this trail be closed? Would the ATV trails in the area be closed? Would camping, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and cross country skiing be allowed? Would the Howard Springs Wayside be closed? Would hiking and photography be curtailed because of the possible negative influence of these activities on wildlife use of the over and underpasses? Would human activities at Big Horn Hills Estates be affected? What about maintenance on the Fall River Electric powerline and substation which are adjacent to Highway 20? Would cattle grazing be affected? IDFG has already indicated that changes to hunting in the vicinity of the over and underpasses will likely be made. As you can see, there are many things to consider. These over and underpasses come with “side effects” which must be considered by the public and decision makers. The devil is in the details! On November 6, VOTE NO on wildlife overpasses and fencing in Fremont County, Idaho. Support common sense, fiscally responsible solutions to safe wildlife passage. (Editorial opinion)
Reprinted with permission IP News
Making Sense of It All
This blog will help you make sense out of all the information on the website, how it affects IP, previous articles in the IP News, our history, and how efforts continue to put IP into various forms of conservation status.