Highway 82 roadkill on the rise | AspenTimes.com

Highway 82 roadkill on the rise

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Chad Spangler/Post IndependentA sign on lower Highway 82 alerts motorists to the potential for encountering big game on the highway.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS “The Colorado Division of Wildlife is reporting an uptick in the number of vehicles striking deer and elk along corridors in Garfield County, and particularly on Highway 82.

The agency detected the increase in reports of wildlife-vehicle collisions because of the people who have sought roadkill permits from the state wildlife agency, said Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. That permit allows people who immediately spot roadkill on the road to take the animal home for eventual consumption, he said.

“If a person wants to claim a roadkill, within 48 hours they have to come to the Division of Wildlife and get a roadkill permit,” he said.

Hampton said in most roadkill situations occur in mid-October, during the beginning of migration of deer and elk to areas they will call home for the winter.

“But with the warmer weather and the lack of significant snowfall so far this year, the migration is starting now,” he said of the animals’ move toward lower elevations. “We are starting to get more reports of roadkill.”

Most of the collisions that have killed area wildlife, mostly deer, have occurred along the Colorado Highway 82 corridor between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, Hampton said.

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“That is one area of concern just because of the migratory corridor,” he said.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, most of the animals move down from the hills surrounding it during the winter, Hampton said.

That is right where the road and the river are,” he said. “So that whole valley fills up with deer and elk over the winter.”

The other location where animals have been struck at higher numbers is the Colorado Highway 13 corridor between Rifle and Meeker, Hampton said. He added that the Highway 82 and Highway 13 corridors are the top locations in the state for wildlife-vehicle collisions.

“The biggest thing is to slow down,” Hampton said.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has taken several steps in recent years in an effort to prevent wildlife from being struck by vehicles traveling along Highway 82, Hampton said. Those include fencing projects, on which the DOW consults, he said.

“What we try to do, working with CDOT, is to put fencing in places where it may be used to direct animals to underpass locations, like bridges,” he said. “We try to recommend fencing as a protective measure, but at the same time we don’t really like fences all the way along both sides of the highway because then you have impacts to the wildlife populations.”

pyates@postindependent.com

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