Wildlife collisions up across most of Colorado, report says; Highway 9 sees 87 percent decline in collisions after wildlife corridors completed
Animal-vehicle collisions by the numbers
In 2013, 1,597 animal-vehicle collisions were tallied in Grand County.
That figure climbed to 1,627 in 2014, went up to 1,859 in 2015 and reached 2,086 in 2016.
Deer alone accounted for 1,455 of those collisions in 2016.
Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
While wildlife are a blessing to Grand County’s tourism-based economy, they can also be dangerous, a fact many motorists have discovered.
Late last week, officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation released statistics on animal-vehicle collisions, which the state refers to as AVCs. The data released by CDOT covers AVCs between 2013 and 2016 and reveals some surprising details.
When visitor numbers in the High Country skyrocket and traffic is more widely dispersed in the summer, one would tend to assume there are the most AVCs. But, according to CDOT, that assumption is incorrect.
“Vehicle collisions with wildlife happen year-round,” stated a release from CDOT. “But statistics indicate that the migration of animals to their wintering habitats can lead to higher incidents of animal-vehicle collisions during the fall and winter seasons.”
As such, CDOT and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, are stressing the importance of vigilance on local roads as the coldest months of the year get closer.
The statistics from CDOT do not paint a pretty picture with wildlife collision trend lines generally increasing across all of Colorado’s five geographical highway regions between 2013 and 2016. The crash statistics cover collisions involving all types of wildlife, from skunks and raccoons to moose and elk, though the most significant number of AVCs were related to deer. The agency tallied more than 4,600 AVCs involving deer in Colorado in 2016 alone.
Grand County falls within CDOTs Region 3, encompassing all of northwestern Colorado. Region 3 has seen an increase in AVCs, involving all types of animals, over the past four years. In 2013 1,597 AVCs were tallied. That figure climbed to 1,627 in 2014, went up to 1,859 in 2015 and reached 2,086 in 2016. Deer alone accounted for 1,455 of those AVCs in 2016.
There were some bright spots to the report, however, including data showing the 11-mile portion of Highway 9, which recently saw the construction of wildlife crossing corridors and wildlife fencing, seeing an 87 percent decrease in AVCs since the project was completed, according to officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The most dangerous highway corridor for AVCs in Region 3 is the 20-mile stretch of highway running from Craig north to the Wyoming border.
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Deputy Steve Hines of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office has been named as a DUI Enforcement Hero by Mothers Against Drunk Driving Colorado.