The Oregon Wildlife Foundation (OWF) is contributing $50,000 for a study the possibility of creating a wildlife overpass on Highway 20 between Sisters and Suttle Lake. It’s part of an effort to reduce collisions between wildlife and vehicles.
OWF said almost 6,000 drivers in Oregon are involved in a collision with a deer, elk, bear or other wildlife.
“According to ODOT, between 350 and 600 mule deer and elk are killed every year by vehicle strikes along Highway 20 between Bend and Suttle Lake in central Oregon, the highest density of deer and elk wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC) in the entire state,” OWF Executive Director Tim Greseth said in a statement.
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The OWF contribution will go toward helping pay for what it says is a qualified firm to do a feasibility study of the corridor and conceptual designs for wildlife crossings. That includes an overpass at Indian Ford near Black Butte.
The funding comes from the sale of OWF’s Watch for Wildlife specialty license plate. OWF says more than 13,000 plates have been sold since they were unveiled in May 2022.
“With no dedicated source of funding support for wildlife passage projects in Oregon, the W4W license plate was conceived to draw attention to the problem of wildlife-vehicle collisions and help migratory wildlife species move safely around Oregon highways and roads,” Greseth said.
OFW also said money is going to the Highway 101 Coastal Marten crossing initiative. The foundation says Oregon’s coastal population of marten has an estimated 71 adults existing in two distinct subpopulations separated by the Umpqua River.