Park City residents urge UDOT to build wildlife fencing after spike in animal deaths

Posted at 6:28 PM, Nov 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-05 09:13:52-05

PARK CITY, Utah – Some people living in Park City are calling on UDOT to tear down a concrete barrier on I-80 and replace it with wildlife fencing. They say in the past couple of weeks, the number of wildlife killed on the interstate has spiked.

A place known as the Snyderville Gap stretches 9 miles along I-80 from Parley’s Canyon to Silver Creek. There is no wildlife fencing, and some residents say UDOT needs to install them now because too many animals are dying.

Ralph Hottinger is heading up a campaign with help from neighbors in Hidden Cove and Jeremy Ranch.

“Sooner or later an individual or person will be killed,” Hottinger said.

Hottinger is putting the pressure on UDOT.

“We're looking at the least, the bare minimum, 6 miles of fencing and potentially overpasses and underpasses to get the wildlife off the freeway,” Hottinger said.

The group says UDOT put in a concrete barrier that runs along the eastbound lanes of I-80 near Summit Park a few months ago, and it’s creating a dangerous situation for wildlife.

“Before the concrete barrier was put in, animals could walk across the highway," said Jennifer Terry, a member of the advocacy group. "I know they're not safe, but they could do it. Now they're trapped and get hit by cars."

Terry says the community couldn’t stay quiet any longer after two calves were recently killed near the Jeremy Ranch off-ramp.

“It's devastating, a kill, we all hurt so bad,” Terry said.

“UDOT is gambling with the 3 to 4 million dollars they can save on fencing isn't worth a person's life,” Hottinger said.

UDOT is listening to their concerns.

“We don't want to see the wildlife getting hit, we don't want to see people injured in these crashes,” said John Gleason, a UDOT spokesman.

UDOT says they’ve made significant investments over the past few years installing wildlife fencing in Parley’s canyon and Silver Creek. Right now, they don’t have the money to put up fences, but they say they’re working with Summit County and the Division of Wildlife Resources to come up with a solution.

“We have to make sure what we're doing makes sense,” Gleason said.

“Something should be done immediately," Terry said. "It can't be done in one or two years. We're not going to have any wildlife left up here."

Terry says if UDOT doesn’t come to the table, residents will take matters into their own hands and raise money for the fencing.