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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 2 - 8, 2002


County endorses plan 
to reduce road kill

ITD asked to protect game, 
motorists north of Hailey

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County commissioners last week took action to try to reduce incidents of big-game road kill on Highway 75 north of Hailey.

Led by Commissioner Sarah Michael, the panel asked Idaho Transportation Department officials to seek state funding for a plan to install on both sides of the highway in the Peregrine Ranch area scores of high-tech reflectors designed to deter animals such as deer and elk from crossing the road at night.

A dead cow elk, killed while crossing Highway 75 near Peregrine Ranch north of Hailey, could be seen lying just feet from the west side of the road last weekend. Express photo by Willy Cook

In a Sept. 27 letter addressed to ITD District Engineer Devin Rigby, Michael and fellow Commissioners Mary Ann Mix and Dennis Wright said they want the agency to seek funding to install Strieter-Lite-brand reflectors in the area. They noted that the stretch has been identified by ITD and state Fish and Game officials as a frequent road-kill site.

The commissioners said in the letter that the reflectors—which reflect automobile headlights into numerous horizontal and vertical beams that appear unnatural to animals—"have been proven very effective in many states as well as British Columbia in reducing the number of collisions between white-tail deer and moose and motorized vehicles."

The commissioners added they have seen some evidence the reflectors will also be effective in deterring mule deer and elk from crossing roads at night—the period when the majority of road-kill accidents happen.

In response to a lack of state-issued signs warning motorists to game-crossing points north of Hailey, one resident installed a homemade sign on the east side of Highway 75 near Peregrine Ranch. Currently, only a single ITD sign, immediately north of McKercher Boulevard, warns northbound motorists of crossing game animals in the area. Express photo by Willy Cook

The decision to ask ITD to take action on reducing road-kill incidents in the area came out of a meeting last Thursday between Michael, Rigby and several concerned Wood River Valley residents and elected officials. The group included Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer Roger Olson, Hailey Councilwoman Martha Burke and state Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum.

A small group of residents from Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley told Michael they were alarmed in recent months by an apparent spike in the number of game animals being killed by autos and trucks between Ketchum and Hailey.

Ketchum resident Candy Forstmann said she believes it typically "sickens people" to consistently see dead animals along the highway.

Burke showed strong support for a pilot program to test the effectiveness of the reflectors. "What’s precluding us from stepping forward and doing this?" she asked.

Indeed, many dead deer and elk have been removed from Highway 75 in recent months, particularly in the Peregrine Ranch area. One estimate discussed at the meeting placed the number of elk killed in the area at six in the last month.

Rigby said ITD workers routinely pull dead deer and elk off Highway 75, noting that some 25 dead deer were removed from the road in the Wood River Valley during the summer months. Estimates of deer deaths in the Timmerman Junction area are significantly higher, he said.

However, Rigby and Olson said they believe the reflectors would have only limited success on deterring mule deer and elk. Rigby said trials of the reflectors in other parts of the state were not successful, but acknowledged that the systems generally were not adequately maintained.

After a warning from Rigby that ITD would not be able to provide consistent maintenance, Hailey resident Ike Kola volunteered to lead a committee of concerned citizens in an effort to maintain the reflectors.

The manufacturer of the reflectors, the Illinois-based Strieter Corporation, estimates that 200 reflectors are needed per mile of highway. The system is estimated to cost less than $300 per mile to install, and $500 annually per mile to maintain.



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