Biologist: moose fence could increase crashes

ANCHORAGE — An Alaska state agency has come out in opposition to another agency’s proposed fence to keep moose off a stretch of road in Anchorage with the highest number of vehicle collisions involving the animals.

Erecting a fence to keep moose off Minnesota Drive and O’Malley Road could hurt the animals and could even increase the number of collisions with cars, state wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane said. Her agency opposes the plan by the state Department of Transportation and has provided comments to traffic planners, she said.

The project would not reduce the risk to moose or drivers because the sections of fence have to open at intersections along the five-mile stretch, she said.

“We would love to reduce moose collisions — don’t get me wrong. But I just don’t think that this is necessarily going to be the best way to do it,” Coltrane said. “It may actually have the opposite effect.”

It would be better to increase lighting in the area, clear vegetation and slow traffic, she said.

Traffic planners estimate the fence would cut the number of vehicle-moose collisions in half, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Between 2000 and 2010, there were 106 such crashes in the proposed area, according to DOT statistics.

DOT officials already plan to cut brush as part of the project to help drivers see moose sooner. But officials said the other recommendations by Coltrane would not work. Even if more moose end up on cross streets, drivers will still have more time to react to the animals, officials said.

“We know that the numbers at those locations will go up. We’re not trying to prevent the moose from crossing the corridor,” said Kevin Jackson, project manager for the fence. “We’re just trying to channelize them in those locations with lower speed.”

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