CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved $1.25 million for underpasses to reduce mule deer-vehicle collisions along Highway 189, north of LaBarge at its meeting last week.
Known as the Dry Piney project, the planned underpasses will impact a 5-mile stretch of highway between mile markers 86-91. That section of highway has one of the highest wildlife collision rates in Wyoming.
The commission’s allocation is set to be supported with additional funds from the Wyoming Department of Transportation and other stakeholders. The first phase of the project will install two underpasses and associated fencing, projected to reduce collisions by 85-90 percent.
“There is no doubt in my mind this is the way to go,” said David Rael, Game and Fish Commission president. “Safety is the number one reason to invest in roadway crossings.”
At the July meeting, the commission also reviewed a series of hunting regulations and approved season proposals for fur-bearing animal hunting and trapping seasons, falconry, mountain lions and wolves.
The commission approved the regulation governing firearm cartridges and archery equipment, which outlined allowable new technology permitted for archery hunting.
The regulation allows for trackable arrow technology for retrieval of big game and the use of magnifying sights, holographic sights and range finding sights when attached to legal archery equipment.
After hearing from the public, the commission directed Game and Fish to explore modernizing the regulation language surrounding expanding point bullets.
Following discussions beginning last September and a public comment period, the commission also approved changes to the nonresident elk draw. The deadline to submit applications will remain Jan. 31 with the last day to modify or withdraw extended until May 8.
This change was made to allow wildlife managers to finalize season information and license quotas before elk hunters must submit applications.
Game and Fish will continue to explore options to address employee housing and recruiting problems in Teton County. Two options were presented to the commission for affordable employee housing in Jackson.
One option was continuing to identify and evaluate the most cost-efficient actions, such as purchasing homes, building homes and working with affordable housing organizations.
The other option involves relocating the regional office and some employees to another location, such as Pinedale. The department will report back to the commission at their September meeting.
The commission approved the FY 2020 budget; $3.9 million in additional funds were approved for one-time projects including chronic wasting disease sampling and moose, deer and pronghorn research. It also heard updates on the chronic wasting disease statewide collaborative process. The first meeting of the Game and Fish director-appointed group is this week in Lander.