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The DWR highlights 2021 wildlife migration projects for fish and deer

Trout Unlimited project at Dalton Creek
Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited project at Dalton Creek

Nearly 5,000 deer were killed on Utah roads last year according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and that’s just the start of wildlife migration problems. Created in 2017 to help solve some of these problems was the Utah Wildlife Migration Initiative, where they use GPS to track migration patterns of many different animal species, said DWR Spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolley.

“We followed their migration patterns to see where they're kind of coming into some roadblocks to be able to complete those migrations every year,” Jolley said.

DWR uses the migration observations to identify where they can help out. Last year, Jolley said, many of the projects focused on partnering with Trout Unlimited to create “fish ladders” or other structures to help fish migrate.

“It's really important for fish to be able to migrate,” Jolley said. “They'll go back to some of their original spawning grounds where they're able to complete that reproductive process to be able to keep their species healthy and their populations healthy.”

But Jolley said DWR also partnered with the Utah Department of Transportation to build structures that allow deer and other wildlife to cross either over or under a road.

“We do have a lot of wildlife vehicle collisions in the state. These crossings basically help people and also the wildlife stay safe so they can make these important migrations that they need to,” Jolley said.

While funding doesn’t allow these structures to be put in everywhere, Jolley said DWR and UDOT are still seeing improvements.

“But we have seen that these things are working,” Jolley said. “We're seeing that there are increases where we're putting up fences, and where we’re putting up these crossings.”

Jolley said DWR continues to monitor migration patterns to identify future project areas.

Emma Feuz is a senior at Utah State University majoring in broadcast journalism with minors in sociology and political science. She grew up in Evanston, Wyoming where, just like Utah State, the sagebrush also grows. Emma found her love of writing at an early age and slowly discovered her interest in all things audio and visual throughout her years in school. She is excited to put those passions to use at UPR. When school isn't taking up her time, Emma loves longboarding, cheering on the Denver Broncos, and cleaning the sink at Angies.