Every year hundreds of animals, including moose, elk, Bighorns, bears, and even bison are hit and killed on Wyoming roadways. Now several groups with different missions are working together to slow down the accidents and the motorists.
Although the speed limit is 50 in the Shoshone Forest near Cody, many motorists go much faster on their way to and from Yellowstone.
They pass large animals near, and even on the road. The animals are often hit and killed, or maimed. In 2013, at least two Big Horn Sheep, one bison, one black bear, and several elk and deer were killed between Cody and Yellowstone.
Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman Cody Beers said, “People are honed in on the idea of Yellowstone. And, they don’t think that they’re going to see anything until they get to the park gate.”
That’s why Beers decided to put up large pictures of moose, elk, and sheep on billboards in Cody, and on the highway to Yellowstone The signs make it clear that the animals tourists came to see are on the roads outside the park. The signs ask people to slow down.
To help pay for the signs, Beers got donations from organizations with very different missions. Why would they come together on this? Katherine Thompson, with the Nature Conservancy said, “Because we’re all in complete agreement about this. Asking people to slow down on the highway is good for wildlife, it’s good for drivers. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Wyoming Outdoorsmen board member Joe Tilden said it's part of his organization's mission,
He explained, "And we’re here to protect wildlife and any animal that’s killed on the North Fork by an automobile, it’s just a crying shame.”
Greater Yellowstone Coalition member Ken Lichtendahl says record nunbers of visitors to the park need to realize, “The wildlife just can’t possibly react when you’re going 65 miles an hour, or in the wrong conditions of daylight, maybe dawn, maybe dusk”
And, Wild Sheep Foundation Director Gray Thornton is thrilled with the big sign with a ram on it, next to the Buffalo Bill reservoir. He has a message for visitors:
“Take your time. Slow down for wildlife. Heed these signs, and enjoy your visit to Wyoming.”
Wyoming's Game and Fish Department has also endorsed the signs.