Elk causes crashes near Glenwood | VailDaily.com

Elk causes crashes near Glenwood

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentTraffic on Hwy. 82 and this migrating elk herd make for a potentially tragic combination.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Three accidents involving six vehicles and a cow elk slowed Highway 82 traffic toward Aspen for almost three hours Tuesday morning.

The accidents happened within seconds of each other near the intersection of County Road 113 and Highway 82 by Cattle Creek around 6:25 a.m., said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Steve Nofziger. No one was injured.

He said a Ford Ranger hit an elk crossing the highway and rolled into the median. Next, a red Volkswagen sedan slowed down because of elk and got rear-ended by a red Toyota Tacoma pickup.

After that, a blue Dodge Caravan and a black Mazda Protege slowed down to avoid the accident. Then a white Dodge pickup with a snowplow lost control behind them, squeezed between the guardrail and the two vehicles and scraped them both on right side, Nofziger said.

The driver of the Toyota Tacoma pickup was ticketed for following too closely, and the driver of the Dodge pickup was cited with careless driving, Nofziger said. He said he couldn’t release the drivers’ names.

The elk was injured.

“The elk got hurt, but he’s still up and about,” Nofziger said Tuesday morning.

Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said the injured cow elk had jumped a guardrail and moved away from the road. It wasn’t moving around when a wlidlife officer looked at it in the morning, but it was doing better in the afternoon. The officer determined it wouldn’t need to be euthanized.

“The elk was still in the same area, but she was moving around,” Hampton said. “So we’re leaving her alone.”

Hampton said the Division of Wildlife counted less roadkill incidences earlier in the winter. But he added that warmer temperatures, wind and even some rain over the last week has caused snow to get crustier, which could make it harder for animals to find food and send them looking for it in more places.

“Because of some of the changing conditions, we are starting to see more roadkill,” he said.

Hampton said elk walk into roadways most when they’re feeding during the early morning when the sun is rising, and also from around 3 p.m. until sunset.

“Unfortunately those are the two times that we see the most traffic,” he said. “There is no way to keep animals off Highway 82. It’s a long stretch and it’s right through the heart of a great deal of wildlife habitat.”

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