A lone moose watched from 50 yards away as state and local officials joined animal lovers to celebrate the official opening of the wildlife overpass at Parley’s Summit last December. “It was fantastic,” says Erin Ferguson with Save People Save Wildlife (SPSW), a nonprofit that lobbied for the bridge. “It was like the moose was saying hurry up and get out of the way.”
The $5 million structure spanning Interstate 80—the first built in Utah specifically for wildlife—gives creatures great and small safe passage across a dangerous stretch of highway with a long history of animal-vehicle collisions and carnage. Big game, which thrives here thanks to swaths of open space and no-hunting areas (such as Red Hawk, Glenwild, and Silver Creek), must descend to lower elevations when snow levels mount. To mitigate the migration, high fences lining the highway from the base of the canyon to the Jeremy Ranch exit now funnel those animals to the overpass. And, though official camera-monitored statistics aren’t yet in, residents living near the overpass have reported seeing deer, elk, and moose cross the structure. Sadly, they’ve also seen humans on the overpass, a definite no-no. The Utah Department of Transportation plans to complete I-80 fencing from Jeremy Ranch to the Silver Creek freeway interchange as funding becomes available—a cause embraced, once again, by SPSW (savepeoplesavewildlife.org).