As we all know, Wyoming is a rural state connected by extensive roads that we all travel to conduct business, recreate, and stay connected with friends and family. And if you drive these roads regularly, there is a good chance that you may hit an animal one day – and likely know someone who already has.
In Wyoming, an average of 2,162 wildlife-vehicle collisions involving large mammals were reported for 2013-2017, accounting for more than 22% percent of all reported vehicle collisions of any kind. However, this number includes only reported collisions — those with significant vehicle damage and/or human injuries associated with them. Records of animal carcasses removed from roads and road right-of-ways by the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) show that an average of about 6,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions occurred annually over the last three years.
Legislation supporting a Wyoming Conservation License Plate was passed in spring of 2018 with the intent to provide a funding source for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and WYDOT to allocate towards roadway and wildlife safety mitigation projects.
These plates have been widely supported. A total of 1,007 Conservation License Plates – representing all 23 counties – have been sold statewide, exceeding the three-year goal in only seven months. Dwayne Meadows, Executive Director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation says that “the initial support out of the gate is critical to show that Wyoming citizens support this measure, this shows that the people of Wyoming are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to wildlife and roadway safety.”
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Muley Fanatic Foundation, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition teamed up to advocate for this bill, both at the Legislature and around the state, and continue to build support for these plates. “These sales represent voluntary broad support from citizens from every corner of Wyoming. Protecting our families and wildlife on highways is a statewide issue and Wyoming continues to be a leader in reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions,” states Chris Colligan, Wildlife Program Coordinator for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
While initial sales are a good indicator of wide support for the measure, Joshua Coursey of the Muley Fanatic Foundation wants to urge folks to keep the momentum going, adding that “this is a huge step in the right direction and we are excited to see such a positive outpouring of support for wildlife conservation and roadway safety – we encourage all those who have yet to purchase a Wyoming Conservation License Plate to do so.”
There is more to be done – our three organizations continue to work on measures to generate funding in support of highway safety and wildlife migration. We will be in attendance when the Transportation, Highways & Military Affairs Committee meets to receive information and testimony on additional draft bills related to roadway safety on Tuesday, August 13 at the Wyoming Liquor Commission in Cheyenne.
Thank you for supporting safe roads in Wyoming.