Nov. 3, marks the end of daylight saving time in Colorado. This means drivers will see dusk arriving earlier, and should be aware that wildlife movements are likely to conflict with rush hour traffic on highways statewide.
As the sunlight fades during our high-volume commutes, Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks the state’s drivers to be cautious in sharing our roads with wildlife. Autumn is peak seasonal mating and migration for many species, so drivers should stay alert and watch for wildlife as they begin to experience darker commutes.
“This time of year is tough for people and wildlife alike,” said District Wildlife Manager Tim Kroening. “People might know wildlife moves mainly between the dusk and dawn hours, but we don’t always connect that to our driving patterns. While your work hours stay the same, less daylight means more wildlife movement, which can increase the chances of a collision. Keep in mind, this is also the time of year when many of our big game species are moving to lower ground or actively mating, so it’s really important to keep your eyes out for wildlife on and near the roads in the fall.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation also advises motorists to stay vigilant, drive with caution and slow down, especially now that several snow storms have set in and have pushed wildlife from the high country into lower elevations.
“Big game like deer, elk and moose are on the move, making their way to terrain for which they can more easily find food and water,” said CDOT Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Peterson. “The seasonal movements of these animals can cause more wildlife-vehicle collisions.”
An effective measure which attempts to decrease the amount of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Colorado has been the construction of mitigation structures. CDOT has worked hand-in-hand with CPW to study, gather data and develop solutions on several highways across the state. One such project is located on I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock, where 12 trail cameras were set up along a 10-mile stretch of the interstate to determine the diversity of wildlife present and capture travel patterns.
“With the help of images captured from the cameras, CDOT and CPW analyzed locations along the corridor where wildlife collisions were highest. The team also documented wildlife movements, noting existing game trails, culverts, drainages and bridges. As a result of the study, CDOT will install four new wildlife crossings and more than 30 miles of deer fence as part of the I-25 South Gap project,” added Peterson.
Information from the 2017 Roadkill Data Report
Statewide roadway deer kills showed a decrease of almost 11% from 2016 to 2017
2016: 4,617 deer killed
2017: 4,117 deer killed
Colorado has increasingly included mitigation structures over and under highways in construction projects to assist in wildlife crossing the highways, but motorists must remain attentive to their surroundings and pay close attention to wildlife on the move. CPW and CDOT offer several precautions that should be followed year-round, but especially around the change back to daylight standard time.
Slow down. Traveling at high speeds increases the danger of a crash. Moderate speeds maintain a driver’s reaction time and allow an appropriate response to animals on or near roads.
Stay alert. Pay close attention to the roadway, particularly while driving between dusk and dawn. This is when deer and other common wildlife are most active and more likely to be crossing roadways.
Scan ahead. Watch for movement and shining eyes along roadsides. If you see one animal, you should expect it will be accompanied by others.
Obey traffic signs. Many highways have wildlife warning signs intended to alert motorists of known wildlife movement areas. Though incidents can happen anywhere, transportation authorities attempt to reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions by posting signage and lowering speeds in areas where wildlife are active.
Give warning. When animals are seen on or near the road, slow down or stop (if no other cars are behind you), honk the horn and/or flash headlights. This warns the animal to avoid the road and alerts other drivers to the potential hazard.
Always wear seat belts. Unfortunately, not every collision is avoidable, and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration state that the risk of serious injury and death in a crash is reduced by half when seat belts are worn.
Drivers involved in a wildlife-vehicle collision should report the accident to the Colorado State Patrol by calling *CSP (star key and 277).
For more information about wildlife and our highways, visit:
Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at www.cpw.state.co.us or
CDOT’s Wildlife Program website at www.codot.gov/programs/