Elk take over I-70 stretch in Eagle County | VailDaily.com

Elk take over I-70 stretch in Eagle County

Chris Outcalt
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado ” A herd of about a dozen elk took over a section of Interstate 70 near Eagle, Colorado for an hour and a half Friday afternoon.

Officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation and Division of Wildlife closed a part of the highway near mile marker 145 to help the elk find their way through a fence north of the highway.

The elk had been grazing in the highway median during the day and staying near the highway at night, officials said.

“We’ve tried a number of things when they were moving at night ” trying to get them to move to a different area,” said Randy Hampton of the Division of wildlife. “We tried to bait them, to put out some feed and some holes in the fences.”

But none of it worked, so officials decided to close highway in order to get them across.

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“You hate to shut down an interstate,” Hampton said. “They should be OK once they get across the fence.”

The transportation department started a project in 2007 to line part of the Interstate from Dowd Junction to Eagle with fencing where collisions between wildlife and vehicles often happen.

“The goal of the fencing is to keep the animals from crossing the Interstate where they become a problem,” Hampton said.

Suburban Denver resident Chad Vidas, who often drives the stretch of highway to visit family in Grand Junction, plans to track the number of accidents involving animals and the number of animals stuck along the highway.

“It doesn’t take someone with a masters degree with wildlife management to realize that that fence isn’t doing the job its supposed to,” Vidas said, who thinks the fence needs more openings and gates for the animals to cut through.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.

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