Many motorists have wondered what the new 8-foot-high fences are along Interstate 17 near Munds Park.

These “exclusion fences” are designed to keep elk off the highway as part of a larger statewide effort to make highways safer for motorists and wildlife.

This transportation enhancement project is a cooperative effort between the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Arizona Department of Transportation.

Elk are a common sight along I-17. Research indicates that I-17 has the highest rate of elk-vehicle collisions in the state. An elk can weigh more than 800 pounds and a collision with an animal that size can have serious consequences.

In an effort to minimize vehicle-wildlife collisions, Game and Fish captured elk and fitted them with radio transmitter collars in order to follow their daily movements.

This information tells biologists where the elk prefer to cross the highway and how often.

Game and Fish worked with ADOT to design an elk exclusionary fencing project and to pursue funding opportunities.

The exclusionary fencing must be at least 8 feet high to keep elk from jumping over it and entering the roadway.

If the elk enter the fenced areas adjacent to the interstate, escape ramps (large mounds of dirt) will allow them to safely leave the area and avoid being trapped.

Information about wildlife friendly highway projects can be found at www.azgfd.gov/wildlifeplanning and www.azdot.gov/inside_adot/OES/AZ_Wildlife_Linkages.

• Briefs compiled from staff and wire reports

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