Wildlife overpasses saving Utah animals, drivers

Feb 21, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: Feb 22, 2024, 8:16 am

PARK CITY — No matter how many warning signs are put up, you never know when one is going to run in front of you.

Bill Ciraco has seen more wildlife hit along state Route 224 in Park City than he would like to remember.

“It happens. There was a moose that was struck at 11:30 in the morning right down the street here in front of the white barn,” Ciraco said.

Seeing that moose, as well as all the other wildlife hit along the road, is why Ciraco is with the group Save People Save Wildlife.

He figured something needed to be done.

“There have been several animal wildlife collisions with vehicles where people have gotten seriously hurt,” he said. 

The group advocates for wildlife crossings and recently went to a Park City Council meeting asking city leaders to apply for federal funding to build a wildlife crossing along S.R. 224.

“Park City, as you come in, it is a beautiful place,” Ciraco said. “We don’t want to see animal carcasses lying on the side of the road, so I feel like it is something we should do.”

Wildlife crossing sign

This image shows a sign warning drivers that wildlife crosses the highway in that area. Mark Wetzel, KSL TV)

Utah’s Department of Transportation has built several wildlife overpasses and underpasses in the state.

UDPT has also teamed up with Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources to continue building them.

The state recently received nearly $6 million from the federal government to build three wildlife underpasses along U.S. Highway 89 near Kanab.

One of the most popular wildlife crossings is over I-80 in Parleys Canyon.

“That is anything from moose to coyotes to bears to mule deer, stuff like that, so yeah, we feel it has worked out really well,” said Kylar Sharp, who is with UDOT’s communications team.

The state says thousands of animals have used it since it was built five years ago.

That means thousands of potential collisions with cars were avoided.

“We always want to make sure things go smooth and as safe as possible,” Sharp said. 

That is what the group Save People Save Wildlife is hoping for. It is just a matter of getting the city, county and state to agree.

“If we all work together, we can make this happen and there is a federal grant program that can provide the bulk of the funding for this,” Ciraco said. “I feel like we should take advantage of that opportunity.”

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Wildlife overpasses saving Utah animals, drivers