‘Watch for Wildlife’ license plate funding animal crossings in Oregon

An Oregon license plate called Watch for Wildlife is behind a statewide effort to cut down on crashes involving animals.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 8:18 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - An Oregon license plate called Watch for Wildlife is behind a statewide effort to cut down on crashes involving animals.

The license plate debuted in Oregon in May of 2022. The state has issued more than 13,000 of them, and each one raises money for wildlife crossings, which are structures that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely and can be a bridge, overpass or tunnel.

Two new animal crossings are coming to Oregon, all thanks to the proceeds from the license plate.

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The Oregon Wildlife Foundation says it’s working with the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Fish & Wildlife to implement a crossing along Highway 20, between Bend and Suttle Lake, where a lot of elk can be seen.

The second project is designed to help the coastal marten, a small member of the weasel family.

“The number of Pacific marten in Oregon is very small with about 71 adults in two distinct populations that are separated by the Umpqua River,” said Tim Greseth, Executive Director for Oregon Wildlife Foundation. “So, we’re talking about a very small population of wildlife so you can imagine that if we have highway mortality with a population that small, that could be very detrimental to the future of that species.”

Pacific marten
Pacific marten(Oregon Wildlife Foundation)

The conservation and recovery of the threatened coastal marten is a high priority for multiple organizations. Their population in Oregon is particularly small, and leaders say mortality from vehicle strikes is a significant reason for that.

The second animal crossing project is being planned for Highway 101, near Coos Bay, to help the coastal marten living in that area cross safely.

Every year in Oregon, nearly 6,000 drivers are involved in a collision with deer, elk, bears or other wildlife species.

The state is currently doing research before it announces any designs for the crossings.

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.

Watch for Wildlife license plate
Watch for Wildlife license plate(Oregon Wildlife Foundation)