Montana tribes receive grant for project aimed at limiting wildlife, vehicle collisions


Kalispell, Mont. (AP) - The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have received an $8.6 million grant for a wildlife overpass over U.S. Highway 93. MontanaWhere three years ago a famous grizzly bear was fatally hit by a vehicle.

Nearly $110 million is being awarded to 19 wildlife projects across the country as part of the Federal Highway Administration's Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program. The project planned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will be the final part of a long-running effort to prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions on the highway between Ivaro and Polson. Flathead Beacon reported,

In September 2020, one of western Montana's most famous grizzly bears emerged from a brush-covered culvert on Highway 93, near the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge. The bear, known as Grizz-40, was radio-collared by researchers in the late 1990s, who tracked his movements. In the early morning darkness, an ambulance carrying a patient for emergency medical services hit him and he died.

Maintenance crews with the state Department of Transportation and tribal officials collect more than 6,000 wildlife carcasses from state roads annually.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have worked with state and federal highway agencies to build wildlife crossing structures along the highway, including "Animals Trail", a 197-foot-wide (60 m) vegetated bridge that Extends the highway to the pass. Casino at the southern end of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

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In a statement announcing the funding, Federal Highway Administration head Shailene Bhatt said the projects will significantly reduce the number of collisions between motorists and wildlife.

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