Watch out for wildlife on highways this winter | PostIndependent.com
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Watch out for wildlife on highways this winter

Don’t be surprised if you come across a few deer or elk on the highway in the next couple months.An ongoing education campaign urges drivers to watch for wildlife on Colorado highways, especially in October and November. Colorado Wildlife on the Move is an effort by state and federal agencies, insurance groups, and nonprofits to prevent traffic crashes involving wildlife. “As winter approaches, deer, elk and other wildlife migrate to meet their daily and seasonal needs,” said Monique DiGiorgio, executive director of the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project. “As these animals move across the landscape, they encounter obstacles like highways, making Colorado’s roadways more dangerous for people and wildlife.”According to new and updated data from the Colorado Department of Transportation, October and November sees more traffic crashes involving wildlife than any other months of the year. Crashes start to increase in the middle of October, and are at an all-time high in the middle of November.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that accidents involving animals cause 200 deaths per year nationwide. From 1993 through 2004, 25 people died on Colorado highways in traffic crashes involving wild animals.In an effort to educate motorists about how to avoid dangerous and costly collisions, the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project has distributed more than 58,000 Driver Safety Tip Sheets in 85 cities and 175 locations across Colorado with a list of suggestions about how to avoid hitting animals. Most important among those tips was a reminder drivers to stay alert and slow down. “As Colorado has an abundance of deer and elk, as well as other wildlife, that live near our urban and rural areas, motorists need to be aware that they can cross our roads without warning at most anytime of day or night,” said Colorado State Patrol Chief, Col. Mark Trostel. “Slow down and stay alert when you see a highway wildlife warning sign especially between dusk and dawn. If you see one deer or elk, expect others. Slow down and concentrate on retaining control of your vehicle. Retaining control of your vehicle is extremely important before, during and after a collision with an animal.”Other tips include the following: — Scan ahead on the sides of the road for signs of movement. — Watch for the shining eyes of animals that reflect car headlights at night. — Look for other animals when a single one is spotted. — Remember that animals are most frequently on the move at dawn and dusk.For more information about the campaign and the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project, or to download a driver tip sheet, visit http://www.RestoreTheRockies.org.


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