Stan Wilkinson’s long crusade to have Watch for Animals signs added on southbound Highway 87 is finally over.
The Arizona Department of Transportation installed bright yellow Watch for Animals elk signs along the roadway. The signs are taller than Wilkinson.
“I’m six feet tall and these tower over me,” he said.
Since June, Wilkinson, 81, has sat on weekends at the light by the Mazatzal Casino in his lawn chair holding a handmade sign warning drivers to watch out for elk as they head down the hill. He started after spotting four elk carcasses on the shoulder over the course of a few weeks. When he couldn’t get the Arizona Department of Transportation to put up warning signs, he resolved to do what he could.
Wilkinson would set up his station starting around 4 p.m. because he had heard of several animal vs. car accidents on the stretch of highway between the casino and Corvair Curve.
National studies estimate that the 1.5 million car crashes involving deer cause 10,000 human deaths and $8 billion in damage every year. Elk weigh two to four times as much as deer. Studies suggest elk repeatedly cross even big interstates — usually between midnight and 6 a.m.
He spoke with one driver who had an accident after an elk jumped out of the bushes by the casino stoplight around 5 p.m.
Most motorists would wave and wish him well.
“I saw 2,400 cars in two hours on the Fourth of July,” he said.
“I had one guy yell at me that I’d never get anyone (authorities) to listen to me,” said Wilkinson with a grin.
Wilkinson reached out to the Roundup for a story in late June. After the story ran, the signs appeared.
“Back then, you asked me how long I would do this,” said Wilkinson. “I told you, ‘until I get results.’”
He hopes he hears of fewer accidents.