Can Kentucky reduce the number of wildlife hit on highways? It got $1.2M to find out how

Kentucky is receiving a $1.2 million grant from a federal program to study how the state can reduce the number of collisions between vehicles and animals. Officials will use data from the study to come up with a collision reduction plan.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced Friday the study will begin in the summer of 2024. Officials from the transportation department and Department of Fish are Wildlife Resources said they are particularly interested in studying segments of Interstate 64 and U.S. 60 between Louisville and Frankfort, due to the "high" number of annual deer crashes.

“This funding will help us identify ways we can make our roadways safer for our families,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement. “The ultimate goal is to protect travelers and to protect Kentucky wildlife.”

The funds were made possible by the federal Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program, which will distribute $350 million in competitive grant funds to states between fiscal years 2022 and 2026, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

In 2022, there were 3,083 reported deer collisions statewide, 34 of which were in Jefferson County, according to data from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Four people died from deer collisions in Kentucky in 2022, data from the state transportation department shows.

“We’re excited to build upon our existing efforts to improve highway safety and prevent crashes with wildlife,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said in a statement. “With these funds, we’ll be able to take a deep dive into data to make informed conclusions and develop a collaborative system to report and identify priority corridors.”

More: Drivers are more likely to hit deer this time of year: When, where it's most likely to happen

The director of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife said he is pleased to partner with the transportation cabinet on the collision study.

"Wildlife vehicle collisions, particularly those involving deer, pose a significant risk to Kentucky motorists," Rich Storm said in a statement. "We applaud the Transportation Cabinet for taking the initiative to reduce these wildlife vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity in Kentucky."

The transportation cabinet said it currently warns drivers about the dangers of deer crossings by putting up road signs and activating the "Antler Alerts" system in the fall.

Reach reporter Leo Bertucci at or @leober2chee on X, formerly known as Twitter

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky receives $1.2 million for wildlife collision study