Wildlife In Herds Near Highways Concern Officials

By Shaun Boyd
BROOMFIELD, CO--This winter’s heavy snow is driving wildlife into unfamiliar areas. They’ve come down to lower elevations to find food, sometimes along busy highways.

Recently in Broomfield about 35 deer grabbed lunch along Wadsworth Boulevard. Passer-by Angela Laino grabbed some pictures, calling the sight “beautiful.” At the same time, though, she said she was surprised and also a little bit nervous to see them so close to the busy road.

Traffic accidents involving wildlife are on the rise. Wildlife is the third leading cause of car crashes in Colorado behind speeding and inattentive driving. In 2004, the last year data was kept, there were 4,074 car-wildlife crashes, an increase of 300 percent in 5 years.

While an occasional deer isn’t unheard of, a whole herd is different. Broomfield police say it’s dangerous.

“We’ve had reports of anywhere from 50 to 60 head of deer (trying to) cross in a group,” Broomfield Sgt. Rick Kempsell said. “We’re concerned motorists might hit them. We’ve had three hit in the last two weeks.”

This prompted CDOT to put up message boards, and the Division of Wildlife to put out a call to motorists to slow down. Tyler Baskfield with the Division of Wildlife says message boards don’t help.

“We’ve had seven mild winters in Colorado, and what’s happening is winter has returned to Colorado, and people have forgotten deer will frequent these areas when they need to,” he said. He also says people who feed the animals aren’t doing them any favors.

“These animals evolved for thousands of years, and they’re pros at making it through a winter like this, so they’re going to be just fine on their own.”–CBS4