GILCHRIST WILDLIFE UNDERCROSS
About this project
Highway 97 runs along the eastside of the Cascades across a historic mule deer migration corridor. Each year animals travel to their summer range high in the Cascades, returning to the desert in late Fall. As part of this migration, many mule deer will cross busy Highway 97 resulting in high numbers of collisions with vehicles. In this particular migration corridor, vehicle collisions account for 20% of all known mule deer deaths. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), there are approximately 7,000 reported collisions involving animals in our state annually. The actual number of collisions, however, is estimated to be 3-5 times higher than what is being reported. In plain terms, we may be losing as many as 35,000 animals, mostly deer and elk, each year due to collisions with vehicles.
Mule deer safely migrate through their wildlife corridor in a similar wildlife underpass at Lava Butte in central Oregon. Built in 2012, it has reduced wildlife-vehicle collisions in the area by 86%.
If we don’t intervene, as the human population grows so will the number of collisions and casualties. OWF partners for the Gilchrist Wildlife Undercrossing project include the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Hunter’s Association, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Mule Deer Foundation, and Protect Animal Migration. This underpass, located near the town of Gilchrist is being built by ODOT, in late summer 2019, as part of a passing lane project. They don’t, however, have the budget for the fencing component – an element that’s critical to the success of wildlife underpasses.
Working together, we can reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, an outcome that’s good for the traveling public and wildlife alike. Please join us and help conserve Oregon’s mule deer and other wildlife by making your tax-deductible gift to the Gilchrist Wildlife Underpass project. Don’t forget to share this critically important project with your friends and business associates; help us make a real difference for wildlife in Oregon!