A filmmaker who has documented the progress of the Interstate 90 wildlife overpass said he was “over the moon” when he saw footage of the first animal to use the bridge.
“The coyote is the first one to the party, and I think there’s going to be a lot more coming when they complete everything,” said Ted Grudowski, producer of the documentary Cascade Crossroads.
The Washington State Department of Transportation shared grainy video Friday of a coyote crossing from one side of the I-90 to the other using the overpass.
The structure of the bridge, which is located east of Snoqualmie Pass, is complete, but crews still need to plant trees and vegetation to mimic a natural environment for animals to cross the roadway. The vegetation will also help block traffic and headlights from the animals’ viewpoint.
The project has several goals: prevent animal-vehicle collisions, allow animals to cross the roadway safely, and help species migrate to new environments.
For example, Grudowski said red foxes have only been documented in the south Cascades, and the bridge could allow them to migrate northward. Wolverines, such as fishers, are another example. Wildlife officials have released fishers in the south Cascades over the last few years to build the native population back up and only recently released six fishers in the north Cascades.
“We’re hoping some of these animals will get back and forth and get access to new habitat,” Grudowski said.