Wildlife-vehicle collisions increase in winter
Wildlife may not have to wrestle with changing the time on their microwave oven, but the weather and human clock changes can pose some challenges for animals moving to lower elevations in advance of the coming winter. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding drivers that with dusk arriving earlier, the chances increase for collisions with deer and elk on Colorado’s roads.
“November is a dangerous month for motorists and wildlife,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Watchable Wildlife Coordinator John Koshak. “Commuters will be driving at dusk when visibility is poor and when wildlife is most active.”
Koshak noted that along with reduced visibility for drivers, deer are also more vulnerable because November is the peak of the mating season, resulting in more mobile, easily distracted animals, he said.
He also cautioned drivers to be aware that deer and elk often travel in herds.
“If you see one animal on the road, generally there’s another one coming,” Koshak said.
During the fall months, large groups of deer and elk will move from high-altitude summer range into low-elevation valleys where they can more readily find food to survive the winter. Those lower valleys are also where many roads and communities are found, increasing the likelihood of human-wildlife conflicts such as vehicle collisions.
If an animal is hit, wildlife officials advise drivers to report the incident to law enforcement and call 911 if there are any human injuries.
While some collisions may be unavoidable, motorists can reduce the likelihood of an accident by slowing down, staying alert, scanning ahead and obeying traffic signs.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife requires that people who wish to salvage road kill apply for a roadkill permit within 48 hours.
Wildlife-related accidents can happen anywhere in Colorado including city streets; however, drivers should be especially cautious when traveling through forests and agricultural land, as well as “high-risk” areas such as Colorado Highway 9 in Grand and Summit counties. Highway 9 has been singled out as one of 17 high-risk wildlife drives in the state. For more information go to cpw.state.co.us.
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