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Boise wildlife project complete on Highway 21

This will be the first winter that the Idaho Fish and Game Department finds out how a new deer/elk crossing guard works to reduce collisions between wildlife and people driving on Highway 21. (File)

It's that time of year again when snow drives wildlife from the high country.

"This time of year we get anything between 5,000 and 8,000 mule deer coming from as far away as Stanley into the Treasure Valley, especially the Boise Wildlife Management Area," said Krista Biorn, habitat biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "And as many as 1,800 elk migrate down here to their winter range."

And this will be the first winter that the Idaho Fish and Game Department finds out how a new deer guard works to reduce collisions between deer and elk and people driving on Highway 21.

Biorn says on the 11-mile stretch of Highway 21 along the Mores Creek Bridge area as many as 200 deer are hit and killed by traffic in an average winter season.

But this winter is different.

Almost a decade in the making, the state Highway 21 Wildlife Underpass Project is now complete with the installation of this deer and elk guard on Spring Shores Road.

"The deer and elk guard is like a cattle guard so the deer and elk can't get from Spring Shores Road onto Highway 21," said Biorn.

The deer and elk crossing guard and already exisiting fencing, known as exclusion fencing, will guide wildlife to the underpass beneath Highway 21. It was built by the Idaho Transportation Department in 2010.

It's the only wildlife underpass in Southwest Idaho, Biorn said.

The safety project aims to reduce the collison of humans in their cars with deer and elk on their ancient migratory paths.

"We'll put cameras out to see if animals are actually getting from the hillside onto the road," Biorn said. "And if there are any gaps in that structure, we'll fill those gaps."

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