Colorado Is Hoping to Improve Animal Safety at Road Crossings With Annual Study of Roadkill Instances

PetMD Editorial
Published: January 02, 2019
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Every year, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) releases a study that examines the instances of roadkill that happen along the highways. The aim of these reports is to help identify areas that have increased instances so they can decide on appropriate animal safety measures to help protect crossing wildlife.

According to the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Jeff Peterson, CDOT wildlife program manager, explains, “We break it down by month, species, highway and if you want to go deeper, we even have certain stretches of highway.”

He explains that the reports are used to determine where the highest roadkill rates occur, so that they can provide additional animal safety measures like animal crossing signs. Peterson explains to the Loveland Reporter-Herald, “It's five animals hit per year per mile.” He goes on, “If you meet that standard, you can think about putting a sign in.”

In some cases—where rates are very high—they will consider proposing the construction of an animal crossing bridge or tunnel.

While these reports are invaluable for improving animal safety when it comes to wildlife-highway encounters, they are also used by wildlife experts and biologists to study the movement of local wild animals in the area.

Jason Clay, a spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, says, “Our collaboration with CDOT has been great. It's a huge safety hazard, and is bad for wildlife and very dangerous for humans as well.”

He adds, “We get our biologists involved to look at animal movement and corridors to try to find the problem areas to mitigate potential safety concerns with people and obviously animals.”

Peterson does admit that since most animal accidents are unreported, they do rely heavily on the cleanup crews that pick up the animals on the highway. Because of this, these reports are not totally reliable for identifying wildlife trends—these crews cannot gather every animal.

However, they can be used to measure the effectiveness of the mitigation efforts set forth. The Loveland Reporter-Herald says, “Peterson said a series of underpasses and overpasses recently installed on Colo. 9 near Kremmling reduced animal deaths by 90 percent.”

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