Wildlife is the third most common reason for crashes on I-70-

Story 1. New Web site launched to track wildlife along Interstate 70. Sky Hi Daily News.
Story 2. Colorado officials and advocates conserving wildlife by stopping roadkill. By Caroline Griesel. Examiner

How many readers have hit large animals? Maybe I should ask how many haven’t?

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

38 Responses to New Web site launched to track wildlife along Interstate 70 in Colorado

  1. avatar April clauson says:

    I have not hit anything, except a rabbit in the snow so I could not stop. But, just a couple months ago while camping in Sitgraves in Arizona, a man that regularly drives down the mountain to work in Payson, hit a whole heard of elk, killed quite a few of them, he admitted he was driving about 65-70 MPH early in the morning. He should have know better. Some folks just are idiots, and any pass’s or bridges to help our wild life if welcome in my opinion! about 100 elk/deer are killed every year on that stretch of highway due to speed.

  2. avatar paulWTAMU says:

    I’ve never hit large wildlife, even when I lived in Colorado. I have run over some rabbits and squirrels though, and one weasel type animal (don’t know what species though). I’ve seen some pretty horrible animal/car collisons though

  3. avatar JimT says:

    In the winter, especially, I essentially creep along when I am driving home from an event at night so I won’t have a bad experience. But even driving at 30 miles an hour with high beams on, I am not sure I would have time to stop for a bear, deer, elk, coyote. Right now, the poor critters here that are taking it on the chin most often are the skunks…

    There is evidence that for the larger animals, the underpasses do work in areas where they habitually cross….Just try and find the money and the political will, however. Hard to do.

  4. Another candidate for a few over- or underpasses? I just recently read in the bear management plan for the small and not too wealthy country of Croatia that they provide a total of 10 Miles of crossing opportunities for animals on a single highway, consisting of either overpasses, underpasses, plus the areas above existing tunnels, bridges, viaducts (counting objects longer than 300ft only). I accept that much of the money for this infrastructure comes from the European Community, but: I always learn on this blog about the tremendous sums the American hunting industry creates for conservation purposes. So what about using a fraction of this? A nice opportunity to show to the public where the money goes and at the same time even save a few elk.

  5. avatar Virginia says:

    I have never hit an animal while driving and would probably wreck my car and kill myself swerving to avoid hitting one.

  6. avatar April clauson says:

    I like Peter’s idea, how about some of all hunting money go towards building under and over pass’s, then they would save lives, instead of taking them. Maybe the hunting folks should think about that. I know our tourist money means nothing to them, even though we spend alot more than hunters do. Hunters buy a gun/rifle, ammo, cloths, and some camping stuff. the only thing they spend money on every year is ammo and a hunting tag. We spend money every time we go somewhere, hotels, film, cameras, restaurants, pay for horseback riding, raft trips, tours, etc….we out spend those hunters 100 times over.

  7. avatar Save bears says:

    How do you know that hunters don’t spend on cameras, hotels, restaurants, etc

    I know I have been on hunting trips we didn’t stay in the back country, of course they spend money with outfitters who spend on goods as well in the area…

    And what about the hunters that visit areas they hunt in the off season, they need all of those services when there is no hunting season going on…

    I am a hunter and visit Yellowstone quite frequently when it is not hunting season…

    By the way, who uses film now a days? LOL

  8. avatar Save bears says:

    And to put it in perspective, I am not against hunting organizations contributing to pass thru areas, I am just saying hunters are normal people to with the same requirements and such..

  9. avatar Save bears says:

    My wife just asked me, do hunters stand in a corner 11 months out of the year, while there is not hunting season, then the night before the season starts, flip the switch on the back of head to activate us again?

    Believe me, when we are not hunting, we are tourists and vacationers just like everybody else!

    LMFAO

  10. avatar April clauson says:

    OK SB, maybe some are, but I know a lot of hunters I have met, they go scouting a couple weeks before they hunt, they camp, bring their own food. They stay a week to hunt, some stay 2 weeks. other than that they when they go to the mountains for a weekend or holiday they are in RV’s towing their jeeps or what ever they drive. Yep, that is spending a lot of money alright! and locals in areas of national parks usually just do day trips or weekend trips, that not much spent either. And people do buy film still, I do, I cannot afford a good digital camera, so I use my CAnon AV-1. And a true hunter is not going to outfitters, that is for lazy bumbs, and they are not staying in hotels every night, maybe the first night when they get there, I do know some hunters, maybe they hunt differently in AZ and CA, where I am used to….but I think, like you said too, it would be nice to use some of the hunting money for over and underpass….

  11. avatar Jeff says:

    One hen pheasant, one sage grouse, two cats, and a roadrunner have met there demise by the vehicle I was driving. Came really close to a mule deer doe while living in Durango. I think as much as anything it comes down to how observant people are of there surroundings. I amazed how many people don’t see others driving around town even, let alone the bighorn sheep above the road or the coyote in the pasture etc…speed obviously plays a factor, but really it comes down to how aware of the environment are you. This even applies in groups of people in doors.

  12. avatar mikepost says:

    Peter and April, hunters do not make the decisions about where all that money goes. It is the state legislatures, wildlife management agencies and wildlife conservation boards that spend those excise tax dollars. Sometimes we hunters wonder where everyones’ head is at as well….

  13. avatar Virginia says:

    I am wondering why every topic that is posted on this website turns into another discussion on hunting?

  14. avatar Elk275 says:

    Virginia

    ++I am wondering why every topic that is posted on this website turns into another discussion on hunting?++

    Ask April she is the one that brought it up.

  15. Just my opinion as webmaster.

    Hunting is an important part of wildlife discussion, but as far as may personal interest goes I’m more interested in wildlife in general, the outdoors in general, and political issues related to it.

    For those who don’t know I was an active professor of political science for 35 years. I still have that title.

    I have also been an active conservationist since I was 26 years old. When I was a teenager I knew nothing.

    In my early 20s, I had no sympathy for animals. I guess I can say that came from working at the Utah State University Veterinary Science Department, but did I ever undergo a transformation within a short period of time after that!

  16. avatar Virginia says:

    SB – you are correct – she did bring it up. But, there are many who are quick to pick up that ball and run with it. I guess it is hunting season, but it seems to me there has been an awful lot of hunting discussion lately, and some of us do enjoy the wildlife, conservation and political implications discussions a little, tiny, tiny bit more than hunting. But, that is just me.

  17. avatar April clauson says:

    Actually I responded to the post Peter put up, about putting hunting money for the over pass’s. So Peter started it, I ran with it, and ya all are biting!!!! LOL!!!
    I am glad some states are trying at least to help our wild life….

  18. avatar Save bears says:

    Virginia,

    I didn’t answer your question, Elk did, I didn’t address anything to you!

  19. avatar mikepost says:

    Bringing this back to the original post, there is a wealth of info about the success of establishing lower speed limits at night in high volume road kill areas. It does not take a $500,000 overpass, just a $500 sign and some enforcement.

  20. Sorry April that you had to take all the biting. That´s the advantage of the different time zones, I had a quiet night here in Europe :-)) Besides that, I´m not sure why there was a reason for any biting at all.
    It´s fairly clear to me that the single individual hunter has no influence on where the money is spent but there is a decision making body that has this influence. Still a good opportunity to show to the public that the money works, is invested and does not just seep away in the organisational channels. Where´s the problem?
    Have a nice day everybody

  21. avatar Bruce Jensen says:

    I have never hit any large animals, and work very hard not to hit small ones – although sadly, I cannot say my record is perfect in that regard. I certainly believe that dropping the speed in wildlife-rich areas is a good idea at any time of day; it is a practice I use in places like Yellowstone and other such places, and it has been successful for me.

  22. avatar Cutthroat says:

    Fortunately, I’ve never hit anything big, but had many close calls. Have made a half hour commute northbound up a fairly thick wildlife corridor in the dark everyday for last ten years (dark this time of year). Just the other day about hit a cow elk who narrowly escaped the southbound traffic to find herself in my headlights. Lots of friends and others I know not so fortunate. One sits in hospital now after striking elk on a motorcycle.

    They did a study like this here…I felt it was my civic duty (and it was kind of fun) to log on and punch in 2 to 3 weekly sightings(…dead skunk milepost 191…3 muleys at 175…). That was over a year ago and still not much done except removal of some trees close to highway which blocked view of animals getting ready to cross.

    I find myself getting real close to the steering wheel and staring out both sides of my eyes at same time (takes much practice).

  23. avatar Ryan says:

    On the Alcan and many roads in Canada, they clear 50+ yards on either side of the road. This makes it much easier to avoid wildlife compared to many of the roads here with trees right to the edge giving the driver no time to see what is coming out of the woods.

  24. avatar Mike says:

    ++ certainly believe that dropping the speed in wildlife-rich areas is a good idea at any time of day; it is a practice I use in places like Yellowstone and other such places, and it has been successful for me.++

    I like this attitude.

    The only big animal I’ve ever hit (knock on wood)was a mule deer just on the outskirts of Big Timber heading north into the Crazy Mountains. I was doing 25 MPH at night, and the deer just ran right in front of the car. It caused about $2800 in damage, but I could not find the deer or any signs of blood.

    Yellowstone for me is the worst. In peak times, so much wildlife is mashed on the roads. Mostly it’s red squirrels, and many of them don’t die from the first hit.

  25. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    I live in NW Colorado. When I moved here, the locals told me,”It is not if you will hit a deer, but when.” About a year later, I hit one. In the 16 years that I have lived here, I hav hit about 5. It is very regretable each time that I have hit one. In known migration routes, I am going about 45 mph at night. During the daytime I am very diligent and alert through thes routes.

    About 3 winters ago, I was hving some body work doe for another reason. The shop foreman took me out in back and showed me about 5 pickups that had hit an elk each. the whole front-ends of these trucks were pushed clear back into the cabs. The results of going too fast on icy highways. And the results of a truck hitting an 800 pound elk at 65 mph!

    Rick

  26. avatar Save bears says:

    I remember a statement my wife told me a few years back, when we hit the north entrance to Yellowstone and headed on to our destination in Silver Gate and we were going through a cliff area, it was about 2 AM and I swerved to miss a mouse running across the road and almost bumped the side of the hill, to which my wife looked at me in the glow of the speedo lights and said “If you kill me avoiding a mouse, just remember, you will have to deal with my kids!”

  27. avatar Cobra says:

    We’ve had a couple of fatalities in North Idaho on I-90 the last 2-3 years from people hitting moose. I’ve seen the rigs and moose really make a mess of things. Seems like when someone hits a moose at the very least there are injuries.

  28. avatar Mike says:

    Moose are much harder to see at dark too than deer. I had two near incidents this year, both bull moose. One was at 5:30 AM in October at Two Medicine, and another in Many Glacier at about 9 AM. Both just ran out into the road without any concern for my vehicle. Luckily I was the only one on the road both times and could swerve.

  29. avatar Cutthroat says:

    Lucky indeed. Had a buddy hit a moose in July. Stepped out from some willows ten feet off of highway, charging hard to get up a steep bank right into his lane of traffic. He never had a chance to react. Totalled his Ford Ranger. Fortunately, he and his boy were uninjured. Unfortunately, moose is dead. In this case too, I see now that the brush near the roadside was a significant factor.

    Incidentally, he was acosted about a week later by a gentleman who lived nearby for killing the moose whom he had grown quite attached to as it had been frequenting the beaver ponds nearby his home for sometime.

  30. avatar Mike says:

    I think there is something to be said for widening the shoulders of these roads and clearing brush for improved visibility. At least give ourselves and the animals a chance. One heck of a project though. It would obviously be started in the worst places.

  31. avatar josh sutherland says:

    I have hit just one deer, and almost hit a cow once in the middle of a neighborhood coming home from hunting pheasants. I know the area along the Wasatch Front hammers deer, they probably kill more deer along those hills than we can imagine. Especially after a hard winter like we had last year I have noticed a significant decrease in quality and quantity of deer.

  32. avatar Chris H says:

    Just wondering Ralph, what was your epiphany? Mine was working at the Grand Canyon for 8 years.

  33. avatar Chris H says:

    Of yeah, put me down for 1 roadrunner in west Texas. I have been lucky I suppose.

  34. avatar Cobra says:

    If any of you ever travel the road from Thompson Falls Montana to Sandpoint Idaho be very careful. It can be almost scary at times because of so many deer. Nicest witetail buck I’ve ever gotten was with a Mazda Van on that road, actually didn’t kill the buck, hit him in the rump and spun him around on the ice then he took off but did do some damage to the rig.

  35. avatar Cutthroat says:

    As a teenager I recall two occasions when myself and friends were able to get animals to track along side our speeding vehicle for a distance only to dart across the road directly in front of the vehicle. Once an antelope and once a muley. Quite a sight having a pronghorn race beside you at 50 mph…understand it’s quite a common phenomenon. Of course I am older now and more mature and realize the inherent risk involved in such childish behavior.

  36. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Cobra, I had a pretty close call with bighorn sheep around Thompson Falls. A herd was crossing the road near a curve. Luckily it wasn’t icy. I have also had close calls with bighorn sheep in the Wind River Canyon and around Jackson. The scariest encounter I’ve ever had was a golden eagle that was very close tot he windshield of my Honda Prelude when I was in college. I figured it was going to be in the passenger seat or in my lap.

  37. avatar Save bears says:

    Hwy 200 can be down right scary, I have been through there several times over the years, and during the winter, the Big Horns are always on the road, because they are after the materials they use on the Hwy to get rid of the ice, it is indeed one of those areas you want to slow way down, especially at night!

    That said, over the years, I have hit a couple of deer, one on Hwy 2 outside Libby, MT at about 1 in the Morning, ended up totaling my car and hit another one, just outside east Glacier, but I am sure that one committed suicide, darn thing crossed when I was about a quarter mile away, then just as I got to it, it jumped back on the road and turned its head, right into the passenger side head light!

  38. avatar jdubya says:

    Here is some good use of the Obama stimulus money:

    http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_13802002?source=rv

    Too bad it does not include $$ for an overpass as well. The moose, elk and deer that inhabit that area do not like to use the Lambs Canyon and Little Dell underpasses.

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