A bear uses a highway underpass to avoid traffic. CPW photo
Changing your clocks with your driving habits during daylight saving time can help prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions. Wildlife experts advise drivers that wildlife is on the move so be aware, drive with caution, and slow down especially at night.
This Sunday, Nov. 7, marks the end of daylight saving time in Colorado. This means drivers will set their clocks back an hour, see dusk earlier, and witness more wild animals migrating to their wintering habitats during rush hour traffic on highways.
As the sunlight fades during high-volume commutes, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) asks drivers to stay alert and share roads with wildlife. Autumn is peak seasonal mating and migration for many species, so drivers should watch for wildlife as they begin to experience darker commutes.
The Colorado Department of Transportation also advises motorists to stay vigilant, drive with caution and slow down, as winter storms often push wildlife from the high country into lower elevations.
In an effort to decrease the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Colorado, CDOT has collaborated with CPW to develop wildlife prioritization plans for the west slope and the east slope and plains. From these studies, wildlife mitigation projects designed to allow wildlife to safely cross busy highways will be constructed at key segments identified for high risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Associated wildlife infrastructure includes wildlife overpasses, underpasses, and high fences with escape ramps and wildlife guards along highways.
One successful wildlife transportation solution is the Colorado Highway 9 Wildlife Crossing Project. In 2016, CDOT in cooperation with CPW and many other partners completed Colorado’s first-of-its-kind wildlife overpass and underpass system on Highway 9 between Green Mountain Reservoir and Kremmling. This innovative solution to keep wildlife off a busy road resulted in a 90 percent reduction in wildlife-vehicle collisions in that area. Check out the final project video.
With the success of the Highway 9 project, even more crossings are being built around Colorado. To learn more about ongoing collaborative efforts, go to Colorado Wildlife Transportation Alliance. See locations of completed crossings around Colorado at the new statewide wildlife crossing web map. Projects recently completed or under construction include:
- I-25 Gap Project between Denver and Colorado Springs (5 underpasses, high fencing and 1 overpass currently in design)
- CO 13 Fortification Creek Project north of Craig (1 underpass and a wildlife radar detection system, high fencing)
- U.S. 160 Dry Creek east of Durango (1 underpass, high fencing)
- U.S. 160 west of Pagosa Springs (1 underpass, 1 overpass, high fencing)
- U.S. 550 south of Durango (2 underpasses, several small mammal underpasses, high fencing)