‘Wildlife on the Move’ campaign in high gear | PostIndependent.com

‘Wildlife on the Move’ campaign in high gear

Sabrina Harris Post IndependentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox

It’s safe to assume that when you’re traveling in any mountainous or rural setting you may encounter wildlife on or near the roadway. Did you know that Highway 82 – from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale – is listed as one of the most extremely hazardous areas in the state for drivers and wildlife?This stretch of Highway 82 experienced 39 wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) in 2005 (the most recent data available). Total accidents on this stretch in 2005 numbered 63, making the WVCs account for 62 percent of all accidents that year. In 2000, there were only seven WVCs in the four-mile section, out of a total 31 accidents (WVCs accounting for 22 percent of all accidents).To assist with this problem, the Colorado Department of Transportation installed wildlife fencing along a stretch of Highway 82 back in September. The wildlife fencing includes the installation of approximately 15,869 linear feet of 8-foot-high fence on the west side of Highway 82, between mile markers 7 and 11, in the Aspen Glen area just south of Glenwood Springs. It also completes the fencing on the east side of the highway along this stretch (approximately one mile).Deer are big and elk are huge. A collision with a big game animal will cause major property damage to a vehicle, and can cause serious injury to motorists. That’s why the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Colorado State Patrol and the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association have teamed up once again to make motorists aware that at this time of year wildlife are migrating down to lower elevations and are moving across the highways. Motor vehicle crashes involving wildlife are seriously dangerous and were ranked as the third leading cause in Colorado for crashes behind speeding and inattentive driving. Deer and elk travel in groups during this time of the year. If you see one deer or elk on the roadway, it is likely that others will follow. Deer and elk also tend to follow the same migratory routes, so watch for wildlife in signed or noted hot spots. However motorists must be aware that animals can cross roads anywhere and at anytime. Be especially careful at dawn and dusk, the times when the most car accidents involving deer and elk occur. The worst times of day are around the peak hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. We want you to be safe on the roads this fall and early winter. You can avoid wildlife collisions by following these helpful driving tips. • Stay especially alert between dusk and dawn; scan ahead and watch for movement on the sides of the road.• The eyes of deer and elk reflect in vehicle headlights. Watch for this important warning.• The range of an average car’s headlights is only 200-250 feet. Slowing to a speed of 40-45 miles per hour in dry conditions and 30 miles per hour in snowy conditions will help you to see an animal and provide you with time to stop.• Slow down at deer-crossing signs. The signs are there because this is an area where deer congregate and migrate.• Stay alert and use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roads. • Be safe by using your seatbelt. These, and other safety tips and wildlife information can be found at http://restoretherockies.org/on_the_move.htm. To ensure that the location of the crash and the type of wildlife hit is recorded in the state’s database, drivers that are in an wildlife-vehicle collision should report the crash to the State Patrol by calling *CSP (star key and 277) – a free cell phone call. This data will serve as a supplement to CSP crash data in the future.

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