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Watch For Wildlife Funding

A deer crossing the road might be a brief inconvenience or a close-call accident to you, but for species like mule deer, it’s a matter of survival.As wildlife moves throughout their habitat for food, shelter, and to find mates, the roads and highways crisscrossing the state make that a dangerous and sometimes fatal journey. Each year, almost 6,000 drivers in Oregon alone are involved in a collision with a deer, elk, bear or other wildlife species.

The Oregon Wildlife Foundation (OWF) aims to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions on Oregon highways and roads. The foundation is working with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) to implement wildlife crossing projects throughout Oregon. Funding for these efforts comes partly from the sale of the Foundation's Watch for Wildlife specialty license plate.

Since its unveiling last May, more than 13,000 plates have been sold. OWF announced that funding from the plates would go to two upcoming projects: the Bend to Suttle Lake (B2S) Highway 20 Wildlife Passage Initiative and the Highway 101 Coastal Marten crossing initiative.

"With no dedicated source of funding support for wildlife passage projects in Oregon, the W4W license plate was conceived to draw attention to the problem of wildlife-vehicle collisions and help migratory wildlife species move safely around Oregon highways and roads,” said Greseth.

While the Highway 101 Coastal Marten project is still in an early planning stage, the need for the project is clear. The conservation and recovery of threatened coastal marten is a high priority for the ODFW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as well as multiple conservation organizations.

Oregon’s coastal population of marten is particularly small, with an estimated 71 adults existing in two distinct subpopulations separated by the Umpqua River, making every individual critically important to the species’ continued existence. Although historical trapping, habitat loss, and predation are primarily responsible for the marten’s steep decline, mortality from vehicle strikes is a significant source of mortality to the central coastal Oregon population. The goal of this project is to reduce vehicle-related mortality of coastal martens by improving or creating road crossings in areas of marten activity.

"In a small population, every loss is significant,” Greseth said. Oregon Wildlife Foundation is an apolitical operating charitable foundation dedicated to increasing private and public funding support for wildlife conservation projects in Oregon. Since 1981, OWF has directed tens of millions of dollars in private and public support to a broad range of projects throughout Oregon. For more information visit www.myOWF.org. The Watch for Wildlife license plate is available for purchase at all DMV locations in Oregon. For more information about Oregon specialty license plates and how to get your own Watch for Wildlife plate, please visit www.oregon.gov/odot/dmv.

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