Restoring historic wildlife movement corridors is a tall task, especially when there’s an interstate highway that cuts a swath through the landscape.
That’s exactly the case in the Pigeon River Gorge near the North Carolina-Tennessee state line.
Crews built I-40 along the Pigeon River five decades ago.
Since then, elk returned to their native range there thanks to restoration work by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners.
In addition, the local black bear population is thriving.
And that triggered travel issues for both species as well as safety concerns for wildlife and drivers alike.
RMEF and its partners permanently protected high quality wildlife habitat in Pigeon River elk country and provided grant funding to monitor wildlife movement along more than a 20-mile stretch of I-40.
Findings will assist wildlife managers in identifying frequent wildlife crossing sites on I-40, leading to future decisions for improving historic wildlife corridors.
Restoring elk country is core to RMEF’s Managed Lands Initiative.
Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed more than 12,400 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects that protected or enhanced more than 7.7 million acres of wildlife habitat.