MOOSE, Wyo. – Warm weather and springtime sunshine mean more traffic along Wyoming state highways, but not from motor vehicles.
As the snow melts north of Jackson, the spring migration for wildlife is in full swing.
The National Parks Service says animals are migrating from winter ranges toward summering sites within Grand Teton National Park, especially along Highways 26, 89, and 191 (89).
Grand Teton National Park spokesperson Jackie Skaggs says herds of elk recently moved off the National Elk Refuge and have fanned out across the broad sagebrush flats just north of the Gros Ventre River, browsing along the sides of Highway 89.
Skaggs says several moose are currently roaming across the sage flats between the Gros Ventre Junction and Moose Junction, as well, and they regularly cross Hwy 89 in search of forage, especially near Airport Junction.
As the snow recedes, bison and mule deer will also make a transition from their wintering areas to summer ranges.
The park service warns drivers moose have been struck and killed by vehicles on Hwy 89 just south of Moran Junction in an area of dense willows near the confluence of the Snake River and Buffalo Fork River.
A nighttime speed limit of 45 mph is posted for the entire length of Hwy 89 within Grand Teton National Park because many animals tend to move during low light conditions and are generally most active between dusk and dawn.
The park advises visitors and local residents to keep their distance from wildlife, especially those who have endured a harsh Jackson Hole winter and may be weaker than usual.
Skaggs suggests maintaining a distance of 100 yards from bears or wolves and 25 yards from other wildlife, including nesting birds.
Collisions between motor vehicles and wildlife may result in severe damage to the vehicle, serious or fatal injuries to occupants of that vehicle, and/or death for the animal involved.