Park City wildlife advocacy group asks UDOT to take action after two moose die in a single day

Oct 4, 2023, 7:02 PM | Updated: 7:09 pm

PARK CITY — Save People Save Wildlife, a nonprofit organization in Park City is calling on the Utah Department of Transportation to install more wildlife fencing after two moose were killed Sunday.

Board member, Bill Ciraco, said more large animals are getting hit and killed by cars.

“From the spring through the summer until now in October, it’s been especially tragic,” he said.

In Instagram posts, the organization reported the death of a moose calf on Rasmussen Road Sunday morning. Later that day, members of the organization said a young male moose was found dead on I-80, near the Jeremy Ranch on-ramp.

The group said for months they’ve asked UDOT to add more wildlife fencing and cattle guards and repair existing fencing that was damaged.

“This happened in an area where the wildlife fencing is in disrepair after this huge winter of snow that we had,” Ciraco said in reference to the two moose deaths from the weekend.

“We’re working hopefully with the city and the county to build some crossings over 224 or under 224 so the wildlife can move between the open space that we have here, up on Iron Mountain and then up to the Wasatch Crest, and then across into Round Valley and then into eastern Summit County where there’s less development,” Ciraco said.

Ciraco said the area has seen multiple animal deaths. He said, with more people on the road, going at fast speeds, it’s a safety issue.

“Our luck is running out,” he said. “We’re going to have an accident one day where a driver hits a moose and that moose is going to cause critical injuries to the passenger of that car.”

He said some residents worry the barriers would impact Park City views.

“Our group would argue that a dead moose or elk carcass lying on the side of the road is probably more of an aesthetic impairment than wildlife fencing, which tends to blend in with the natural environment,” Ciraco said.

Save People Save Wildlife said the longer UDOT takes to add fencing, the more animals may die.

“I feel like we need to elevate this a bit higher up the chain so that they can get the resources they need, because it’s been mostly about resource constraints for them to be able to fix the fencing and the cattle guards, which as we saw this last Sunday, it leads to tragic results,” Ciraco said.

UDOT spokesperson John Gleason said they’re on board with adding more fencing, and have plans in place to do so.

“We want to put in more wildlife fencing as well,” Gleason said.

He said there’s other factors to consider.

“We have to work within our budget and we have the entire state and this an issue across the state,” Gleason said

“We’ve made a significant investment in reducing the number of wildlife collisions in Parley’s Canyon and invested millions over the years in the big wildlife bridge, along with miles of fencing and it’s really significantly cut down on the number of animals that have been struck,” Gleason said.

He said an issue with a contractor stalled a fencing project.

“The project we have right now on Interstate 80 just east of Kimball junction, there was a contractor who was assigned that job and unfortunately, they went out of business so we put that out for bid again,” Gleason said.

Gleason said animal deaths caused by collisions happen across the state.

“There may be issues in one particular area, but the issues may be more significant in other areas,” he said.

UDOT applied for a $20 million grant that would add more fencing, along with three more animal crossings.

“That would put fencing in from Morgan on US 84 all the way to Echo Junction on I-80, up past Parley’s,” Gleason said.

Both UDOT and Save the People Save Wildlife agree, this is a human issue too.

“Not only do we not want to see animals injured or killed on our roads, but we want to make sure that people are safe,” Gleason said.

Ciraco he doesn’t want to see more animals die, nor does he want humans to be harmed.

“Our organization is called Save People Save Wildlife and our mandate is twofold,” he said. “It’s really to protect both of those groups. “