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New wildlife bridge comes with cameras, warnings

Members of the media tour a wildlife overpass on I-80 in Parleys Canyon. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

PARLEYS CANYON–Now that a new wildlife bridge is in place over I-80, officials are going to use cameras to make sure it works.

UDOT’s natural resource manager, Matt Howard, says the four cameras will be motion-detecting. One will be placed on each end of the bridge, with two in the middle. The video should show them if, when, and how the animals use the bridge.

“Ideally, we should have four events — when the animal starts crossing, two in the middle, and then at the end. But if they turn around and go back, we can see that, and we’ll want to know why,” said Howard.

They won’t be in a live video feed yet, but UDOT plans to release clips of the crossings to the public.

“And then if we get a good migration event we know is coming, after 2-3 years we can kind of predict that, so we could go live at that point and tell people to check it out,” said Howard.

But Howard’s biggest worry with the bridge is that curious humans will get too close and scare the animals. He wants mountain bikers and hikers and dog-walkers to keep away.

“This is not a recreation bridge. It is for wildlife. If you use it for recreation, then you are taking away from its ability to be a success,” he said.

Activists are helping get out that message.

“This is not your bridge, this is their bridge. Stay off it, stay away. Do not put any of your human footprint near this bridge,” said Sharon Chantelle with the Park City non profit group, “Save People Save Wildlife.”

They’ve met with mountain biking and trail user groups about it. There are no existing trails in that area of Parleys Summit, just miles of wildlife fencing along the highway, so they hope people do not trespass.