Officials advise drivers to watch for wildlife after time change and amid winter weather
Changing your clocks with your driving habits during daylight saving time can help prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions. Wildlife experts advise drivers that wildlife are on the move, so be aware, drive with caution and slow down at night.
Sunday, Nov. 6 marked the end of daylight-saving time in Colorado and with dusk coming an hour earlier, drivers may witness more wild animals migrating to their wintering habitats during rush-hour traffic on highways.
As the sunlight fades during high-volume commuting times, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are asking drivers to stay alert and share roads with wildlife. Fall is a peak seasonal mating and migration time for many species, something drivers should consider as they transition to darker commutes.
The Colorado Department of Transportation also advises motorists to stay vigilant, drive with caution and slow down, as winter storms often push wildlife from the high country into lower elevations.
“With the changing seasons and snow already in the mountains, we are seeing a lot of deer and elk across our highways that motorists need to look out for,” said Parks and Wildlife assistant area wildlife manager Steve McClung. “It is important for people to adhere to speed limits and remember that many of our highways have reduced speed limits from dusk until dawn to help prevent collisions with wildlife. Drivers should be aware of animals in town, on county roads and on highways and keep their eyes on the road and shoulders to help prevent dangerous collisions.”
In an effort to decrease the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Colorado, CDOT has collaborated with Parks and Wildlife to develop wildlife prioritization plans for the Western Slope as well as the Eastern Slope and Plains.
“From these studies, wildlife mitigation features can be added to planned highway improvement projects,” said Steve Harelson, CDOT chief engineer. “The prioritization plans provide us with a proactive approach to pursue strategic wildlife-highway mitigation where it is needed most, to allow wildlife to safely cross busy highways and decrease the potential of high risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions.”
Associated wildlife infrastructure includes wildlife overpasses, underpasses, high fences with escape ramps and wildlife guards along highways.
Parks and Wildlife and CDOT actively monitor wildlife data to identify highway mitigation projects to protect our wildlife and keep Colorado motorists safe.
To learn more about ongoing collaborative efforts, visit the Colorado Wildlife Transportation Alliance’s page at ColoradoWTA.com. Projects have been recently completed or are under construction in Castle Rock, Craig, Johnson Village, Pagosa Springs and Durango.
“Wildlife crossing structures are a win-win for wildlife and for people. These projects allow animals to move safely across the landscape for seasonal and daily movements while decreasing the risk to motorists of having wildlife collisions,” said wildlife movement coordinator Michelle Cowardin. “As traffic increases across the state, more roadways will become barriers to wildlife movement, therefore it is important that we work together to develop solutions to maintain healthy wildlife populations in Colorado.”
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