Deer, bears and other wildlife use Utah’s animal-only bridge

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It’s a real-life animal crossing.

New video shows a stream of deer, porcupines, bears and bobcats walking over an interstate highway in Utah — using the state’s first wildlife bridge.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources shared the footage last week, showing that the $5 million Parleys Canyon Wildlife Overpass near Salt Lake City is being used as intended.

“It’s working!” the agency wrote on Facebook.

The state’s Department of Transportation took on the project as a way to reduce vehicle collisions with critters on Interstate 80, local outlets reported.

The 350-foot long animal-only bridge was completed in 2018. In the two years prior, there were at least 106 vehicle crashes with wildlife, killing about 64 animals.

Complete data wasn’t immediately available for the years since the overpass was completed. However, UDOT spokesman John Gleason told the Salt Lake Tribune last year that early results were “encouraging.”

“From what we can tell, the number of accidents there is down dramatically,” he said. “At least initially, it appears the investment in safety is paying off. And we expected it to take several years before the animals got used to using it, so this is great.”

To make the bridge more appealing to wildlife and help it blend into the surroundings, crews placed dirt, rocks and boulders on the crossing.

“We want to make the bridge feel as much a part of the surroundings as we can,” Gleason said. “It’s a win for both wildlife and people that drive on the road.”

Six miles of fencing were also put up to make sure wildlife would make use of the overpass, instead of trying to cross the interstate.

“As you can see, the 2nd year of this overpass has been successful at helping wildlife safely migrate over busy Interstate 80 and helping motorists be much safer as well,” the Division of Wildlife Resources said.