The migration of animals to their winter habitats can lead to a rise in animal-vehicle collisions in fall and winter. That is one reason the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado State Patrol are …
The migration of animals to their winter habitats can lead to a rise in animal-vehicle collisions in fall and winter. That is one reason the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado State Patrol are reminding motorists to be cautious as wildlife are on the move.
“As days shorten, temperatures drop and snow begins to fall, many wildlife species move from their high-elevation summer ranges in the mountains and plateaus and travel to lower elevation winter ranges in the foothills and valleys,” Mark Lawler, CDOT biologist, said in a news release. “The essential habitats for these animals are intersected by Colorado's highways, forcing wildlife to cross roadways in search of food, water, space and shelter.”
State agencies track reported collisions with wildlife, and the statistics count all types of animals including small and large mammals ― from raccoon and skunk to moose and elk. However, the most significant number of animal-vehicle collisions occur with deer.
Agencies reported that more than 4,600 deer were killed on Colorado highways in 2016. Most collisions occur from dusk to dawn, when wildlife are more active and, unfortunately, more difficult to see.
If a wildlife collision does occur, a Colorado State Patrol captain offers some advice.
“Drivers should brake, look and steer,” Capt. Adrian Driscol said in a news release. “Brake, slow down and concentrate on keeping control of your vehicle. Look around and be aware of your surroundings, especially other vehicles in front or behind you. Then steer and move your vehicle to a safe position off the road.”
The best practice for drivers is to be aware, drive with caution and slow down, especially at night. While almost every road in both rural and urban areas will have wildlife attempting to cross the roadway, road kill statistics have pinpointed some highways that are more frequently used as corridors for wildlife on the move.
“If you see one deer or elk, more than likely you can expect others crossing the highway too,” Driscol said.