SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MOOSE HIGHWAY CROSSINGS DURING WINTER IN THE BUFFALO FORK VALLEY, WYOMING

Scott Becker

Abstract


To accommodate increases in traffic volume and to address highway safety concerns, transportation managers often need to expand existing travel corridors which may result in increased risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions. By understanding the spatial and temporal characteristics of wildlife crossings, managers can apply appropriate mitigation techniques to reduce collision risk while maintaining habitat linkages. The U.S. Highway 287/26 reconstruction project in northwest Wyoming provided an opportunity to examine the influence of habitat, landscape, and anthropogenic features that influence highway crossing locations of Shiras moose (Alces alces shirasi). A model developed to estimate adult (≥ 2 years) female moose winter habitat selection was used at a smaller spatial scale to determine if it could accurately identify moose crossing locations along a 9.7-km section of U.S. Highway 287/26 that bisects a high-density moose winter range in the Buffalo Fork Valley. To test our model’s predictive capability, we used 201 moose crossing locations collected previously by independent researchers using snow-track survey techniques. The majority (81%) of moose crossing events occurred in areas classified as high or medium-high relative probability of use. We also examined temporal patterns of moose crossings and the influence of fence types in influencing crossing location. Moose crossed the highway more frequently during early to mid-evening and less frequently during mid-day. Our findings indicate that preferred habitat and landscape features such as relatively flat, low elevation habitats dominated by deciduous shrubs/trees interspersed with conifers had a stronger influence on crossing location than fences.

Keywords


Alces alces shirasi; fence; habitat selection; highway crossing; moose; moose-vehicle collisions; spatial; temporal; Wyoming

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