In the five years ending in 2022, there were more than 28,000 tra­­ffic accidents and more than 60 deaths in Pennsylvania due to interactions between motor vehicles and animals.

To fight that problem, the Federal Highway Administration announced Tuesday the state has received a grant of $840,000 to study the issue and find ways to keep motorists and animals safer. The grant from the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program is part of a $350 million commitment from the FHWA over the next five years through the Biden administration’s economic stimulus program.

According to a news release from the agency, the state Department of Transportation will work with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the state game commission and others to develop a “comprehensive strategic plan” to address the problem. The plan could include installing specific wildlife crossings in busy wildlife areas as well as fencing and acquiring tracking and mapping tools for animals.

The goal is to reduce crashes involving wildlife, which the FHWA estimates cause $10 billion in damages each year, and reconnect threatened or endangered species to their habitats. 

In a statement Wednesday, PennDOT spokeswoman Alexis Campbell said the study will be done in three phases. In the first phase (12 months) the state will develop a strategic plan for wildlife crossings, the second phase will create a data collection system and GIS mapping system (24 months), and phase three will develop and implement a public outreach and education program (48 months).

“In order to address the challenges and seize the opportunities associated with wildlife crossings, PennDOT is working with stakeholders across the commonwealth to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan,” Campbell said. “The ultimate result is to provide PennDOT and stakeholder organizations with the tools necessary to help reduce animal-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity for wildlife.”

Statistics provided by PennDOT show the state had 2,467 crashes involving deer from 2018 through 2022, with Allegheny County, at 1,478, having the most crashes by 335. Allegheny also led the state with 369 injuries, 169 more than any other county.

Westmoreland, which ranked fourth in deer accidents, led the state with six fatalities over the five-year period, and no other county had more than three.

The state lists an accident as involving a deer if the animal causes a driver to crash a vehicle, even if the vehicle doesn’t hit the deer. The state doesn’t specifically record accidents involving other animals.

Nationally, the FHWA estimates there are more than a million accidents involving vehicles and large animals each year, resulting in about 200 human deaths and 26,000 injuries. The Pennsylvania grant was one of 19 worth $110 million in the first round of funding.

“Every year, too many Americans are injured or killed in crashes involving cars and wildlife, especially in rural areas — but President [Joe] Biden is tackling this challenge through these first-ever roadway safety grants,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a news release. “The projects we’re funding today in 17 states will reduce collisions between drivers and wildlife and save American lives.”

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at