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LOGAN — Two wildlife crossing structures have allowed more than 300 deer to cross safely under two busy roads this year, according to the Division of Wildlife Resources.
The crossings — one in Box Elder County and one in Summit County — are reducing the number of deer that are hit and killed by vehicles.
Utah State University is leading studies to determine the effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures across the state.
USU has monitored a culvert at milepost 8 in Sardine Canyon continuously since 2009 using cameras on both the west and east sides of the culvert's entrance. USU's initial findings indicated that the culvert wasn't as effective as it could be. The way a fence was designed near the culvert, and gaps in the fencing farther away from the culvert, were likely to blame, researchers said.
In 2010 and 2011, the Utah Department of Transportation, the DWR and volunteers repaired the gaps and improved the fence. In the first six months of this year, 284 deer successfully used the culvert to cross under the busy highway.
"As deer in the area get used to the culvert, we think even more deer will use it," said Pam Kramer, regional habitat biologist for the DWR.
At Summit County's Echo Junction in 2012, UDOT installed two new bridges over the Weber River on I-80 at the I-84 interchange. A major feature of the newly constructed bridges was the installation of soil pathways under the bridges along both sides of the river. These pathways make it easier for wildlife and people to move under the bridges.
Although the bridge, pathways and fencing have only been in place for five to six months, and the fall migration of mule deer isn't in full swing yet, a USU study has shown that 57 deer, including 20 fawns, have already used the pathways to successfully cross under this busy interchange.