- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho Transportation Department is considering the construction of overpasses that would provide safe crossings for wildlife over a stretch of U.S. Highway 20 near the state’s border with Montana.

The wildlife overpasses are in two of the four options the department has outlined for how it would use the $22 million slated to improve the 4-mile stretch of highway near Island Park, the Post Register reported (https://bit.ly/2xtZaE8 ) on Monday.

The most comprehensive option calls for the construction of three wildlife overpasses with fencing along the roadway that would funnel animals into using the crossings.

While the department is still evaluating the cost and probability of the options, it has held public meetings to take input from area residents.

Project Manager Eric Verner said the preliminary comments from residents have placed emphasis on options that would help reduce the number of collisions between motorists and wildlife. He said 15 collisions with wildlife were reported to police during a four-year period, but the actual number of wrecks is likely higher because motorist don’t always report.

This stretch of road is in an area that’s a key crossing for deer, elk and moose as well as predators, Renee Seidler said, a transportation specialist for Idaho Fish and Game. She said the roadway is detrimental to wildlife in multiple ways including dividing animal populations.

While environmental groups have supported the wildlife overpasses, some groups that are rooted in conspiracy theories have led campaigns questioning the motives behind the wildlife overpasses.

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Information from: Post Register, https://www.postregister.com

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