KANAB, Utah – An estimated 6,000 dee are killed on Utah roads each year, and a new project is hoping to cut those numbers, at least for part of the state.
As tourists head to southern Utah this summer, the Utah Department of Transportation is focusing on a different migration. A herd of deer will be moving from Arizona to the Grand Staircase near Kanab.
To help those migrating deer cross the busy highway, crews are installing massive culverts and 8-foot fences along 11 miles of Highway 89 just east of Kanab.
“What we’ve done here is a series of structures. We’ve taken advantage of existing drainages and some of the culverts that we already have and have been able to combine all of that,” said Kevin Kitchen, Region Four communications director for UDOT.
UDOT says that on that stretch of road alone, there are 110 wildlife-related incidents every year, and that’s why they’re focusing the new project there.
Barbara Button and her crew at Taylor Made Fencing are putting up the deer fence along Highway 89. Being based out of Kansas, Button knows deer accidents are all too common.
“We had friends who got killed out here in a deer-car accident so we’ve kind of got personal ties to this area,” Button said.
The new fencing along the roadway will have posts designed to funnel deer into culverts and hopefully help UDOT reach its goal of zero fatalities…both human and deer.
“We feel fortunate to be able to get these types of projects. They’re few and far between but we’re always taking a look at maybe where we can strike next and bring things together,” Kitchen said.
UDOT says it may take a couple of migration periods to fully measure whether the $2.6 million project is having the desired impact. They’ll be monitoring it to see if the construction can be implemented elsewhere in Utah.