Open range cattle being struck by vehicles spurs ITD employee to take action along SH-51

Wilmer Biggs poses with a sign he created.

Collisions between vehicles and cattle along State Highway 51 is spurring an Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) employee to take action by repurposing unused signs into open range warnings. 

Wilmer Biggs, a transportation technician with the Bruneau ITD maintenance crew, has seen firsthand the damage that can happen when vehicles collide with open range cattle. Biggs decided to transform advisory signs from a defunct federal radio alert system into flashing open range signs. To date, Biggs has converted nine signs along SH-51, spanning from the Nevada border to north of Bruneau. Biggs hopes to convert more in the future.

“These flashing signs are designed to grab the attention of travelers. It’s a win-win situation. Not only will it enhance safety for Idaho’s drivers, but it will reduce losses for our local farmers,” Biggs said.

Open range cattle can be found on SH-51 and other Idaho highways year round. Idaho is an open range state, meaning cattle and other livestock have the right of way. If livestock is hit on an open range, the owner of the animal is not liable for damages to the driver or the vehicle. Drivers may be liable for injuries or death of the animal if found to have been negligent.