A bill supported by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that allocates $5 million for projects to provide safe road crossings for elk, deer and other wildlife passed the Colorado Senate and is headed to the governor’s desk for final approval. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDDOT) will consult with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) as well as the Colorado Wildlife and Transportation Alliance regarding the disbursement of the funding.
CDOT reports the daily and seasonal movement of wildlife results in nearly 400 wildlife-vehicle in-state crashes annually triggering injuries and fatalities to wildlife and humans alike. Those collisions also caused an estimated $800 million in property damage each year. Colorado has the largest elk population in North America, numbering more than 290,000 as well as moose, deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and other wildlife species.
Images released from earlier this year show elk are already using an underpass along a key elk and mule deer migration corridor in southwest Colorado, a project funded in part by RMEF.
“Wildlife-vehicle collisions make up more than 60 percent of crashes in this area. This $11.3 dollar project is expected to reduce those collisions by at least 80 percent,” Julie Constan, CDOT regional director, said at the time. “And we are already seeing benefits. Our project and environmental teams are very excited to discover that trail cameras have captured small animals and big game, including deer and elk, using the underpass structure completed last fall.”
(Photo credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)