Driving in Montana this time of year poses some challenges, one of which is wildlife on the roadways. MTN’s Chet Layman talks with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks about why that's happening and how crashes can be avoided.
BOZEMAN — One of the benefits of living in Montana is the ability to see wildlife in so many places. The downside? Sometimes wildlife encounters become a little too personal.
“Being in southwestern Montana, we're all a little bit aware all the time of wildlife. Whether that's recreating in bear country, whether that's, you know, going for a hike, there's always a chance of encountering wildlife and the same goes for when you're on the road,” said Morgan Jacobsen, information and education manager for Montana FWP Region 3.
“Whether you're here in the mountains or if you're out in the valley, that chance of running in to wildlife while you're driving is there,” he added.
This time of year, a chance to encounter wildlife on the road is magnified by weather, length of darkness, and the fact that animals are simply trying to survive. We use the highway system to move from place to place; sometimes when the snow gets deep, wildlife uses it too.
“West Yellowstone is one where there is bison on the road. Bison are very hard to see, especially in the dark. As well as, you know, places like Gallatin Gateway where we have elk crossing right there, but really that reality exists pretty much anywhere in Montana you can encounter wildlife on roads,” said Jacobsen.
Jacobsen stresses the importance of slowing down, paying attention to your surroundings, and recognizing the warning signs. They are there for a reason.