Thursday morning, December 27, the Ravalli County Sheriff's office issued a traffic alert for an elk herd crossing US 93 south of Lone Pine Conoco, south of Hamilton. The resident elk herd is one of the most frequent group of "pedestrians" on Highway 93 through the Bitterroot Valley. And is really doesn't matter what season they decide to cross the four-lane roadway south of Hamilton. It's one of those cases of keeping your eyes open to see other eyes looking back at you from the side of the road, or in the driving lanes. The Hamilton herd is one of three main groups that cause traffic trauma. Another herd crosses US 93 in an area immediately south of Lolo. The Montana Department of Transportation has occasionally put up electronic warning signs to alert drivers. The other large herd frequents the East Side Highway south of Stevensville in the area of Bell Crossing. And, in the south end of the valley, the elk are often seen around the road.

Besides the elk, the main culprits for large animals crossing the road are deer. They are roam in much smaller groups and move into danger at a higher speed, often at sunset, nighttime and sunrise. Most of those who've lived in the valley awhile have stories of near-misses and collisions with our "open range" deer and elk. Drive carefully and sign up for those Ravalli County Sheriff's Office alerts on your cell phone app store. They help.

Elk and geese. (Mike Daniels, Townsquare Media)