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I-90 Wildlife Watch second year report released

Apr 09, 2013
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More than 2,000 visitors reported nearly 300 sightings online to i90wildlifewatch.org from the survey area stretching from North Bend to Easton on Interstate 90. The results are summarized in a 2012 annual report.

In the second year of the I-90 Wildlife Watch project (i90wildlifewatch.org), more than 2,000 visitors reported 282 valid wildlife sightings made in the survey area stretching from North Bend to Easton on Interstate 90, comprising a total of 241 live and 41 dead animals.  The results are summarized in an annual report released today.

“We are thrilled that so many motorists are reporting the wildlife they see as they drive I-90,” said Conservation Northwest's Jen Watkins.

“The people submitting reports on our site are not only contributing to biologists and planners knowledge of wildlife presence in this important landscape, but providing a human perspective through their comments.” Jen is project Coordinator with I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition and conservation associate at Conservation Northwest.

Motorists reported 15 mammal species, including deer, elk, black bears, cougars, coyotes, foxes, otters, mice, hare, raccoons, skunks, woodrats, and one cow, as well as several bird species. In one report from 2012, a participant reported a canine, “was in the roadway, I put my flashers on to alert the driver behind me. The coyote moved safely into the median.”

The year produced more live wildlife sightings along Interstate 90 than reports of dead animals, but several unfortunate events stood out, catching not only motorists’ attention but our own. During last year’s Memorial Day weekend, a black bear attempting to cross the busy highway near Hyak on Sunday morning didn’t make it: the 250-pound male was killed by a vehicle in the eastbound lanes after reportedly navigating westbound traffic. The vehicle drove away immediately, and the bear’s carcass was collected by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which reported it would use the hide for classroom education.

Then, in August 2012, a cougar was struck by a vehicle on I-90 east of North Bend during the evening. This upsetting incident was apparently witnessed by many motorists, some of whom reportedly stopped to investigate the scene and protect the animal from further trauma. The cougar sat dazed in the roadway and was apparently fatally injured. Coincidentally, the collision occurred within a mile or two of a live cougar crossing reported to I-90 Wildlife Watch in July.

Unsuccessful crossing of animals over Interstate 90 is a reminder of the safety risks posed to both wildlife and motorists when roadways cut through wildlife habitats.

Within the I-90 Wildlife Watch project area, Washington State Department of Transportation is working to create safer passage for people and wildlife through the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project. Beyond providing data and a narrative to wildlife approaching and attempting to cross Interstate 90, citizens are directly informing the department's work as they construct and monitor this project.

As the snow melts in the mountains along I-90 be sure to keep your eyes open for any live or dead wildlife that you see from the car.

“I-90 Wildlife Watch helps the Washington State Department of Transportation by tapping into several thousand sets of eyes as commuters traverse Snoqualmie Pass,” said Craig Broadhead, South Central Region WSDOT biologist. “This citizen science effort provides invaluable information to help us tailor objectives and ultimately define success regarding the restoration of ecological connectivity on the I-90 Project.”

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