Officials monitoring efforts to divert deer, prevent accidents

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KANAB, Utah - As deer migration reaches a peak, the Utah Department of Transportation is closely monitoring deer crossings along U.S. 89. The crossings are designed to keep deer off the road and cut down on wildlife accidents.

“Fall’s an important time for the animals as they move from one area of habitat to another,” said UDOT Environmental Services Director Brandon Weston. “That’s when we see a lot of animals trying to cross our highways.”

Deer culverts east of Kanab are some of the latest efforts to help deer cross under the highway. Cameras have captured deer on their way to Arizona. The 12 mile stretch of U.S. 89 is part of a long-term study to find the best way of accommodating both wildlife and traffic.

“What we’re doing is putting in some deer fencing to funnel the animals a safe place to cross,” Weston said. “Underneath the highway, so they can get to habitat on both sides of the highway without interfering with traffic.”

This is actually the second year these particular deer crossings have been in place for the migration. But UDOT continues to monitor them because they say it can take several years for the deer to learn how to use them.

“Most likely it will, and it will take time for us to implement all of the mitigation measures in terms of fencing and wildlife escape ramps,” Weston said. “But we hope with over time we’ll see the accidents drop.”

UDOT officials said another way motorists can help deer learn to use the crossings is by not stopping when they see deer along the road.