Defenders helps to make Colorado roads safe

Canada LynxEach 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.

Night speeds at wildlife crossings

When visibility is low at night, speed limits at wildlife crossing zones are lowered.

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.”

5 Responses to “Defenders helps to make Colorado roads safe”

  1. Jennifer

    This is awesome. And seems very do-able, budget friendly and all.
    Nice work! Thank you!

  2. Angela

    Thank You for the “Wild Life Zone” Signs! Our family lives in the middle of the Hwy 24 North “Wild Life Zone”(about 1 mile north of Buena Vista, CO). Unfortunately, the deer cross right by our driveway & we have witnessed way too many deer-vehicle collisions! The new Zone signs have slowed drivers down a bit-but I really don’t believe that 55 MPH at night allows enough reaction time to avoid a deer that jumps in front of an auto. During the months of Sept-April, I recommend driving no faster than 45-50 MPH through this zone. It’s inevitable that you will encounter at least one deer & most of the time several deer nightly. Think about it: Safely arriving at your destination 5 minutes later or possibly not arriving at all while sustaining damage to your auto, yourself & killing or injuring an innocent animal! Please use some common sense & SLOW DOWN!

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