Each year, thousands of animals are killed while trying to cross Colorado’s highways, including elk, deer and mountain lions. In 2004, a female wolf that traveled all the way to Colorado from Yellowstone National Park was tragically hit by a car and killed while trying to cross Highway I-70. And since the reintroduction of the imperiled lynx to Colorado in 1999, 13 of the animals have been killed by collisions with cars.
But animals aren’t the only ones threatened by wildlife-vehicle collisions. These crashes cost Americans more than 200 lives and $8 billion every year.
Fortunately, Colorado has taken steps to reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions on its roads—and Defenders helped!
Taking Action for Wildlife
During the spring of 2010, more than 3,500 Defenders of Wildlife supporters contacted their state legislators and urged them to support House Bill 1238, an important piece of legislation that will help save the lives of local wildlife and reduce costly—and potentially fatal—wildlife-vehicle collisions.
Since the reintroduction of the imperiled lynx to Colorado in 1999, 13 of the animals have been killed by collisions with cars.
HB1238 requires the Colorado Department of Transportation (with the CO Division of Wildlife and State Patrol) to identify “Wildlife Crossing Zones,” and post signs marking them for drivers. In these zones, nighttime speeds may be reduced to 55 mph and fines may be increased for drivers caught speeding, just as they are in construction zones on the highway.
The CO Department of Transportation, Division of Wildlife and State Patrol have already identified several wildlife crossing zones around the state. So far, zones have been established and signs have been placed on Highway 24, just north of Buena Vista, and on U.S. Highway 550 near Durango.
Caitlin Balch-Burnett, Colorado Outreach Representative for Defenders of Wildlife said, “Alerting drivers to the presence of wildlife is a critical step towards keeping roads safe for people and animals alike. Thanks to the hard work of all involved to make these wildlife crossing zones a reality, travelers are given a key tool in protecting themselves and our state’s wildlife.”