A long-time highway project in Virginia just south of the Virginia-Kentucky border should wrap up construction by the year 2026. While it will greatly improve travel time and better connect remote communities for humans, there’s concern about what it means for Virginia’s growing elk population.
The 127-mile Corridor Q project cuts right through Virginia’s elk country. That means more traffic and, therefore, more danger for elk and motorists alike.
In an effort to alleviate the situation, the research division of the Virginia Department of Transportation requested $200,000 to study the possibility of installing some type of system that would warn drivers if elk are in the immediate area.
If given the green light, the so-called elk detection system would accompany signage and fencing.
“They’re not really used as a standalone measure,” Bridget Donaldson, a Virginia Transportation Research Council scientist, told the Virginia Mercury. “Because they can’t prevent animals from getting on the road. It’s really just to warn drivers.”
Wisconsin uses roadside flashing lights in areas where elk numbers are most dense while Montana, Wyoming and other states have employed static highway signs, flashing lights or other means to warn drivers.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided volunteer manpower and funding to assist with the successful return of elk to their historic Virginia range in 2012.
(Photo credit: Virginia Department of Natural Resources)