‘Skittish’ Elk And Other Animals Are Using Wildlife Underpasses Installed In Conjunction With I-25 South Gap Project – CBS Denver

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(CBS4) Bears, elk, and other animals already use the lower wildlife corridors along Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Denver. These tunnels were installed in cooperation with CDOT through the I-25 South Gap project.

The wildlife mitigation system includes four new underpasses for wildlife and one refurbished. Twenty-eight miles of fencing along the highway helps direct the animals to areas they can safely make under the highway.

(Credit: Jason Clay/CPW)

“The goal was to be able to provide safe and reliable travel for motorists commuting between Denver and Colorado Springs, as well as provide the same for the wildlife who use the habitat in that area,” explained Jason Clay, a spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Since May 2017, motorists have collided with nearly 200 animals on the stretch of I-25, Clay says. In June, an 18-year-old woman was killed after hitting a deer near Pines Castle.

“We learned from the data looking at the numbers that there are a lot of collisions between wildlife and vehicles, which is very dangerous for motorists and the loss of wildlife,” Clay said. “There is a lot of momentum going on, not just in Colorado but across the country, in providing safe corridor and connecting habitat, and this has been a very good collaboration between our agencies, and in that regard, we have really found a great success.”

The $20 million system was put in place with the goal of reducing collisions by 90%. The lower walkways are lined with sticks and plants to replicate the landscape and range from 100 to 300 feet wide to help the animals feel comfortable as they pass.

“Elk is really fickle about using areas, especially confined areas,” Clay explained. “Their width allows the elk to see the entire section. Some of them were dog legs or braziers that were previously there for sanitation purposes, so they were specifically designed with this scene in mind to allow many types of large game to pass.”

This system is similar to the wildlife overpasses found along Interstate 9 near Kremmling, where studies have shown that the mitigation system has reduced land vehicle collisions by 90%.

“It’s massive, and we expect to see the same,” Clay said.

With 59 cameras installed around an extension of the South Gap, Clay said they will be able to study how the species interact with wildlife mitigation corridors and use them in future projects.


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