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Sign tallies animals hit along I-90

Associated Press — Oct. 6, 2004

BOZEMAN, Mont. — An electronic sign greets cars traveling Interstate 90 between Bozeman and Livingston with the message: "192 animals hit this year, next 20 miles."

The number is continually updated as part of a project by state, university and private groups working together to cut the death and injury rate of animals on that stretch of road.

One study found that at least 15 black bears have been killed by cars in the area in the last four years.

"We know that (192) is a bare minimum count," said Amanda Hardy, a research ecologist for the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University.

Hardy and others are also passing out questionnaires at Bozeman and Livingston freeway exits to find out how people react to the signs.

WTI is working with the state Department of Transportation, American Wildlands and the Craighead Environmental Research Institute on the project.

The target area is a wildlife corridor that connects the Gallatin Range and the greater Yellowstone National Park area to the south with the Bridger/Bangtail mountains and the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem to the north.

Hardy said the project will test different sign messages, check the speed of vehicle travel and survey drivers for their responses.

The groups sponsoring the project suggest several precautions drivers can take: pay attention to warning signs along highways; scan the roads and roadsides constantly; remember that many animals travel in groups, so if one crosses, others may follow; and dim your dashboard lights at night to help you see your headlights reflecting from the eyeballs of animals on or near the road.

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