Wildlife collisions in Utah have dropped since the start of the pandemic, and the number of cars on the road may be responsible.
With more people working from home or being laid off during the pandemic, the number of people commuting to work declined in 2020. Although wildlife collision counts within Utah are still being tallied for 2020, the Utah Department of Transportation believes there are significantly fewer collisions compared to previous years.
Utah wildlife collisions from April to December 2020 are estimated at 2,145, while collisions averaged 2,653 for the same months between 2017 to 2019, or a 19% overall decrease.
Roads are often significant barriers to animal movement, and roads that pass through important migration routes are areas of high collision risk. Collisions are most common in the spring and fall, when animals like deer and elk are migrating between their winter and summer habitats.
While the pandemic is likely a key player in reduced collisions, other efforts, including improved road fencing, wildlife crossing infrastructure and animal migration tracking may also play a role.