Despite the ongoing deployment of an 8-foot-tall electronic fence along much of the 17-mile section of highway and enough cameras to cover each side the highway at the crossings, it is still difficult to gauge the relative the project's success.

Though Dodd said fenced areas have seen an 83 percent reduction in elk-vehicle crashes during the last year, speeds in the 55 mph test area still average 80 mph. Over the long term, Dodd said the elk-accident rate has nearly doubled in seven years, with 36 percent of those incidents happening at designated crossings.

Dodd said the fault lies in the state's exploding population, not the warning system. From 1990 to 2000 the state population density swelled from 32.3 people per square mile to 45.2, according to state statistics. Headcount is expected to grow from 3.6 million in 1990 to 6.6 million by 2010.

To counter the population boom, planners are laying the groundwork for a public education campaign, while also working to expand the reach of the electric fence, to better channel elk toward the crossings.

Adam Stone  |  Contributing Writer