Elk NetworkThe Stats Prove It: Colorado Wildlife Crossings Offer Safe Passage

General | July 6, 2021

Numbers don’t lie. Five years after erecting a series of overpasses and underpasses on State Highway 9 in northern Colorado, the state’s wildlife and Colorado drivers are safer than ever before.

In 2015-2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDT), Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other partners began construction on two wildlife overpasses, five underpasses, 10.3 miles of wildlife fencing, 61 escape ramps and 29 wildlife guards. Researchers spent the next five years monitoring cameras to document wildlife movement and determine the effectiveness of the project. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funding toward the purchase of those cameras.

CDT distributed a video (see above) that highlights statistics provided by research.

  • 90 percent decrease in wildlife-vehicle collisions
  • More than 12,000 safe highway crossings by mule deer into key winter range
  • 16 other species used the crossings including elk, black bear, coyote, wild turkey, pronghorn antelope, moose, bobcat, bighorn sheep and even the river otter
  • Success rates measured across the project showed mule deer at 96 percent, elk at 91 percent and black bear at 98 percent

In addition to safety, the project highlighted the importance of maintaining habitat connectivity for wildlife. The research will assist engineers and wildlife managers create additional wildlife crossings in Colorado and across the nation.

(Video source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)