Highway 28 in Wyoming crisscrosses an area that has one of the largest sage-grouse gatherings in Wyoming.
The highway also divides sage land with a Big Sandy River where sage grouse travel for water and food source. This creates deadly consequences to these birds, especially during the month of late July-September when hens are in desperate need of food and water for her broods.
One morning I counted seven dead sage-grouse on a highway. I can only imagine how many birds are getting killed by automobiles every year. Now, what can be done about this? Obviously we can’t block the highway and ask people to detour – although I wish we could.
State of Wyoming posted “Grouse Crossing” warning signs on the highway (along with pronghorn and cow crossing warning signs) in the hope of getting drivers attention.
The same morning I also spotted a family of sage-grouse with 5 broods trying to cross the highway, as I was observing the situations from a distance. No one seemed to even notice them – even though they were quite visible; they are big birds! Once I even saw a juvenile sage grouse got ran over just 50 feet in front of a grouse crossing sign.
I must admit that it is hard to avoid anything when you are driving 65mph on a highway. But it is possible to be aware and be cautious of their crossing, so you have a chance of avoiding them – especially in the areas between Farson to Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge during late summer months!
There have been much researches and collaboration efforts made by several government agencies and local groups to save these birds. If we can’t stop disturbing and destroying their habitats by our activities, we can at least help these birds by slow down your vehicle a bit in a grouse country!