SANDPOINT, Idaho — What was arguably North Idaho’s most unique roadside sign is no more.
Since July 2016, drivers along Highway 200 near the Idaho Club in Bonner County would catch a glimpse of a sign warning of turtles crossing the road. The sign, which read “turtle crossing” and was accompanied by a silhouette of a turtle, was placed near an area where turtles had apparently been crossing the highway and ultimately ending up as roadkill.
However, the “turtle crossing” signs have since been removed and replaced with simpler and much-less unique signs that read “game crossing.”
The Idaho Transportation Department confirmed the replacement of the signs, saying thieves were to blame. According to ITD, the “turtle crossing” signs were apparently attractive to rapscallions who swiped the signs around half a dozen times. The most recent sign theft occurred last fall, according to ITD spokeswoman Megan Sausser.
Moreover, Sausser added that replacing the signs cost ITD at least $700 per sign, including labor costs.
“Ultimately, it makes more sense to switch to a wildlife crossing sign,” said Sausser in a message to KREM. “While less specific, it still warns drivers and will likely not attract the same level of thievery, allowing our maintenance crews to focus on other highway needs.”
Sausser added that during the times the former signs were stolen, drivers weren’t aware of the turtles either.
In 2016, an ITD spokesman said that the signs were installed after a passionate Bonner County resident contacted the agency several times and asked about a sign. ITD then reached out to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for input. IDFG biologists at the time told ITD that there were enough turtles and turtle habitat nearby that warranted installing a “turtle crossing” sign.