Antelope are crossing near Beckwourth

Three antelope are living along Highway 70 near Beckwourth for the winter. Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol have set up changeable message signs to alert drivers of the grazing animals near the roads. Photo submitted
Carolyn Carter

  Many Reno commuters and Sierra Valley residents will notice a change in scenery on Highway 70 near Beckwourth. There is a small heard of three antelope roaming the pastures near the highway.

  If drivers haven’t noticed them, they certainly will notice the changeable message signs put up by Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol alerting drivers of the creatures’ presence near the road.

  According to a Caltrans representative, the small herd is creating a safety issue because drivers are frequently slowing down and making U-turns to catch sight of the unusual animals in the area.

  Steve Ulrich, wildlife officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said there was a herd of eight antelope out by the airport in Beckwourth this summer. Once the winter hit these three stayed in the area, but the snow cover forced them to graze by the roads.

  These antelope are an offshoot from the large herd that lives by Hallelujah Junction, but Ulrich said the herd of eight was the most he’s ever seen in the Sierra Valley area.

  Caltrans, CHP, CDFW and local farmers have all been working to protect the antelope from being hit by any cars cruising through the valley.

  “Everybody wants to see them live,” said the Caltrans representative. “The main thing is public safety.”

  “There’s a limited amount of things we can do,” said Ulrich. “They have a mind of their own, and antelope are very, very reluctant to jump over fences.”

  Both Caltrans and CDFW said they want to alert people to the danger of the crossing antelope.

  “People need to be aware that where we live is a dangerous place for crossing animals. Especially this time of year, animals will be starting to move back and crossing the roadways,” Ulrich said.

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