With start of cold weather, CDOT urges drivers to watch out for wildlife

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Updated Nov 1, 2017
A moose crosses a wildlife safety bridge in Colorado.A moose crosses a wildlife safety bridge in Colorado.

The cooler Colorado weather also means animals are coming down the mountain searching for food, which leads to more animal-vehicle crashes.

The state has seen a rise in such accidents over the past four years, with more than 4,600 deer killed on state highways in 2016, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

2016 Road Kill Deer Only Statewide 4 Yr Totals Graph“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,” said Mark Lawler, CDOT biologist. “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.”

Most of these collisions occur at night, when wildlife are more active.

“Drivers should brake, look and steer,” said State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscol 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.”

Driscol added, “If you see one deer or elk, more than likely you can expect others crossing the highway, too.”