Fall Migration Greatly Increases Auto + Wildlife Crashes
Colorado's wildlife are migrating from summer to winter habitats. That move may unexpectedly put them in front of your car while driving.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials say while major collisions with wild animals, particularly deer, and elk occur year-round, most of the crashes occur during the fall and winter migration season.
The roads and highways in Colorado, while practical for drivers, can also cross migration paths which means the possibility of running into a large animal is greatly increased on some sections of roads around the state.
CPW can't change the migration paths, but they do offer advice on how to lessen the probability you'll destroy your car running into an animal crossing the road.
First, be aware wildlife can cross the road at any time without warning. That means you should not only be watching the road, but also what's happening alongside the road because the when the critters want to cross, they don't look both ways to make sure it is safe.
The most common time vehicle-wildlife collisions happen is between dusk and dawn. Wild animals are more active during these hours and it is also more difficult to see them.
Colorado State Patrol Public Information Officer Joshua Lewis says,
The best practice for drivers is to be aware, drive with caution, and slow down, especially at night. If you see one deer or elk, expect others... Scan the sides of the road for signs of movement.. and the shining eyes of animals that reflect car headlights at night."
According to Colorado Department of Transportation statistics, there are an average of 3,300 wildlife/automobile collisions each year. Of those, over 2,600 resulted in injuries. In a ten year period, there were 33 reported fatalities.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has created an educational video titled 'Wildlife on the Move' to help drivers be aware of the risks, and steps to take to avoid hitting an animal or what to do if involved in an accident caused by wildlife on Colorado's roads and highways.