Officials in North Carolina are seeking ways to reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions along several different wildlife corridors. Among them are I-40 in the Pigeon River Gorge and along U.S. Highway 19 between Maggie Valley and Cherokee, areas that are home to the region’s elk herd.
Of course, crossing such busy and high-speed roadways is dangerous and sometimes deadly for both wildlife and drivers.
According to the Citizen Times, there were more than 61,000 wildlife-vehicle incidents between 2011 and 2013 resulting in 20 human fatalities, more than 3,400 injuries and $149 million in property damage. Wildlife affected included bears, elk, deer and other species.
There were no elk in the region when the highways were constructed. Now, researchers are monitoring elk wearing electronic collars to get a better idea how and where they move.
“We also wish to manage land with partners to attract these large animals away from dangerous highways and residential areas into the more remote wild places during their long-distance movements,” Caleb R. Hickman, Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians’ fish and wildlife biologist, told the Citizen Times.