If you've driven the stretch of U.S. Highway 93 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, you've likely seen the "Animals' Trail", a 197-feet wide vegetated bridge that provides safe passage for wildlife to cross over the busy highway.
That Animals' Trail may be the most visible, but it's just one of dozens of fish and wildlife crossing structures that line the 56-mile stretch of highway.
In total you'll find:
- 41 fish and wildlife crossings (including the Animals' Trail)
- 60 jump outs
- 2 underpasses for livestock
- 1 bicycle/pedestrian underpass
- 18 miles of wildlife fencing
- 8.7 miles of road length with wildlife fencing on both sides
The Montana Department of Transportation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and Federal Highways Administration constructed these passages to improve safety by reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and to protect wildlife migration corridors.
The structures are located in areas known for heavy wild life crossings and mortality, and/or locations where the surrounding landscape was best suited for the structures. Typically, you can find them near stream crossings and areas with protected habitat on both sides of the road.
The culverts and bridges are designed to provide sa fe crossing opportunities under the highway for wildlife. Structures that include a stream aim to r esemble natural stream conditions for fish and othe r aquatic species.
Some large carnivores, deer, elk and moose tend to use vegetated highway overpasses more frequently than wildlife underpasses to access the other side of the road. The animals need to move across the landscape, including the highway, to find food, water, and shelter.
Eight-foot high wildlife fencing on both sides of the road keeps wildlife from entering the highway and directs them to crossing structures.
Jump outs allow wildlife to safely jump down to the other side of the fence should they be caught in the fenced road corridor.
Modeled after cattle guards, wildlife guards discourage deer and other hoofed mammals from entering the fenced road corridor at access roads.
You can find dimensions of each of the wildlife cros sing structures in this table. Part of the success of wildlife crossing structures com es from animals feeling secure in approaching or crossing the structures. We appreciate your interest, but please do not approach or enter the wildlife crossing structures; it is not allowed.