Frightened deer jumping off Highway 21 bridge to their deaths

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Frightened deer are jumping to their deaths off a 100-plus foot bridge in southwestern Idaho.

Wildlife officials say the deer are jumping to their deaths off the High Bridge - formally known as Mores Creek Bridge on Highway 21 east of Boise.

"I've seen it myself and some of our staff have seen it too," said Evin Oneale, big game manager for the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

Wildlife experts say it happens at the High Bridge over Lucky Peak Reservoir on Highway 21 when roaming deer crossing the bridge are panicked by oncoming automobiles.

"The first thing a deer is going to do is try and get away," Oneale said. "They jump over what they think is just into the barrow pit, but it's a 120-foot fall to the river below."

Highway 21 cuts through a mule deer winter range area. From the beginning, its co-existence with wildlife has been a tricky relationship as dangerous collisions between vehicles and deer are frequent.

In January 2004, more than 100 elk died when they fell through the ice and drowned trying to find a way around the man-made obstacle.

iN 2010, Fish and Game and the Idaho Department of Transportation built an underpass for animals that leads them under Highway 21.

Fish and Game says the underpass is successfully funneling animals to a safe crossing but as colder weather brings more deer to lower elevations, motorists are urged to slow down crossing this bridge where a deer's instinctive leap could lead to its death.