No drivers hurt in the accidents
Four elk were killed over the weekend on U.S. Highway 191 near Gallatin Gateway in two separate crashes. Neither drivers involved in the accidents were injured.
The first incident occurred early on Saturday morning during daylight hours, according to Holly Pippel, a longtime Gallatin Valley local and photographer who has followed elk herds near Gallatin Gateway for the past seven years. The driver struck two cow elk and a calf, all of which were killed.
Another cow elk was struck and killed likely in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, Pippel said. She noted that hunters with salvage tags claimed the elk meat.
The two incidents bring the number of elk killed by cars around Gallatin Gateway up to nine in the last two weeks, Pippel said—including one bull elk that was killed. She added that most accidents occur between Williams Road, near the mouth of the canyon, and South Cottonwood Road, near Gallatin Gateway.
A corridor study finished in October 2020 by the Montana Department of Transportation showed that wildlife collisions accounted for nearly a quarter of the 1,077 vehicle crashes from 2009 to 2018 on U.S. 191 between Four Corners and Beaver Creek Road just south of Big Sky.
The report stated that upwards of 13,500 vehicles per day travel the highway that parallels the Gallatin River and cuts through a swath of the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
Pippel said that she had reached out the MDOT about placing variable message boards up along the highway to warn motorists of the wildlife crossing dangers but was told none were available. Pippel said that she hopes that public officials will consider lowering the speed limit between the mouth of Gallatin Canyon and Gallatin Gateway and improve the signage and warnings for drivers about wildlife on the roadway and that people concerned about the issue should reach out to the Gallatin County Commission.