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Evaluating wildlife mortality hotspots, habitat connectivity and potential accommodation along US 287 and MT 87 in the Madison Valley, Montana, final report.
  • Published Date:
    2016-11-01
  • Language:
    English
Filetype[PDF-7.87 MB]


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Evaluating wildlife mortality hotspots, habitat connectivity and potential accommodation along US 287 and MT 87 in the Madison Valley, Montana, final report.
Details:
  • Publication/ Report Number:
    Project Summary Report 8217-001
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  • Abstract:
    The Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University (WTI) and the Craighead Institute (ChI) conducted a two-year study to investigate the effect of the major highways in the Madison Valley on road-related wildlife mortality and movement patterns, and to identify locations and strategies for potential wildlife accommodations . Along United States Highway 287 (US 287) and Montana Highway 87 (MT 87), wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) can create a public safety risk and a habitat connectivity issue, which has generated some public concern. Prior to this project, the patterns and effects of WVCs and wildlife movements across this highway corridor had not been studied in depth.

    Madison Valley is situated in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and plays a key role in connecting this ecologically intact ecosystem to other intact areas of the Central Rockies, particularly the wildlands of central Idaho and the Selway-Bitterroot Ecosystem (SBE). US 287 and MT 87 in Montana form a partial barrier for wildlife movement between protected lands around Yellowstone National Park, Hebgen Lake, and a large block of core wildlife habitat on public lands in the Gravelly, Snowcrest, and Centennial Mountains. They do not block movement completely for the species studied, but they can delay travel and may impose stress on resident wildlife. Although there is a growing body of data documenting animal movement across the highway by elk, grizzly bear, wolverine, and other species, the barrier effect of the highway and road-related wildlife mortality patterns were poorly understood prior to this study. The overall objective of this project was to determine the effect of the major highways in the Madison Valley on wildlife mortality and movement patterns.

    While this study focuses primarily on the effects of the highway corridor on wildlife connectivity, it is recognized that the movements of wildlife across highway corridors can be a serious concern from the perspective of safety for the travelling public. This study does not specifically address driver safety related to wildlife vehicle collisions. An in depth analysis of crash data as it relates to incidences and severity of wildlife related accidents was not completed for the purposes of this study. Any future implementation of the recommendations for wildlife accommodations put forth in this study must be further evaluated based on an in-depth analysis of both safety and connectivity considerations. The implementation of any wildlife accommodations within the Madison Valley are dependent on funding availability, cost-effectiveness, statewide transportation priorities, and the potential nomination and development of future highway projects within this corridor.

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