How to prevent wildlife collisions on the roadway
Colorado has seen an average of 3,300 reported wildlife collisions on the road each year for the past decade, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Of those, 2,661 resulted in injury and 33 were fatal.
Colorado offers wildlife encounters and opportunities that rival any other state, but it comes with a cost. Drivers must be aware of what is out there, especially on the Western Slope.
According to CDOT, this area puts drivers at particularly high risk for wildlife encounters.
“Although animals can cross the roadway anywhere at anytime, there are high-risk areas, seasons and times that travelers should be well aware of,” CDOT said in its video Wildlife on the Move.
The highest risk for wildlife encounters comes in the fall. CDOT states that the most dangerous time to travel is from mid-September to October, and risk spikes again in spring due to migration patterns.
“Dawn and dusk are the most important times of day to be vigilant about wildlife as animal movement is high and visibility is low,” said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Joshua Lewis in a CDOT video. “Eliminate all distractions from around you, reduce the intensity of dashboard lighting and always drive within the comfort of your head lamps.”
“Remember if you see one animal, there’s more likely others behind it. Look for signs such as eye shine or signals on the highway,” he said. “These tips are not just for new or unfamiliar drivers, but for experienced drivers that may become complacent in their normal routine. If you do have an animal encounter remember to brake, look and steer.”
In 2016, CDOT Region 3, which covers most of northwest Colorado and includes Garfield County, saw 2,086 reported animals killed on the road. That was the most of any of the five regions, according to CDOT road kill data. The region has seen an increase in road kill each year since 2013.
Six bears were killed in Region 3 in 2016.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife PIO Mike Porras said, “If you’re driving down the road with multiple people in the car, involve all of them in spotting wildlife. Looking for eyes, shapes and movement helps, and if you see one animal, there’s likely more.”
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