Wildlife face mixed winter in area

This deer carcass was visible on the shoulder of Highway 64 roughly half way between Meeker and Rangely this past weekend. Bill deVergie, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife manager in Meeker, said the number of vehicle run-ins with area elk and deer is on the rise, and he urged drivers to be extra careful from sunset to sunrise as the animals are increasingly looking for the greener grasses that grow along roadsides.

This deer carcass was visible on the shoulder of Highway 64 roughly half way between Meeker and Rangely this past weekend. Bill deVergie, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife manager in Meeker, said the number of vehicle run-ins with area elk and deer is on the rise, and he urged drivers to be extra careful from sunset to sunrise as the animals are increasingly looking for the greener grasses that grow along roadsides.

RBC I Winter survival for area wildlife has been a mixed bag, with elk faring better than deer, a local official with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Monday.
“With the elk there have been no winter problems in the Meeker area,” CPW area wildlife manager Bill deVergie said. “Body conditions are good, and it looks like they are making it through winter without any noticeable problems.”
The situation for the deer hasn’t been quite as bright, deVergie said.
“It is just a little early to tell for sure, but we are seeing a bit of trouble with the fawns,” he said. “We won’t know the magnitude of trouble for another month.
“We have quite a few monitors on the fawns from last year and we are monitoring them pretty closely,” deVergie said. “We are getting quick reads on several of the fawns by using the monitors — and we are seeing some loss — but we won’t have a good feel for another six weeks.”
Regarding the number of elk and deer carcasses along the highways and roads in the Meeker area, deVergie said there is a lot of concern.
“Along Highway 13 north and south as well as a couple of other roads in the area, I see the situation being as bad as it has ever been,” deVergie said. “Incidence of vehicles hitting elk and deer have noticeably increased. We have many more vehicles than we used to, even in the winter, and the incidents involving animals and vehicles are likely to continue to increase.”
deVergie cautioned drivers to be particularly cautious in the evening and early morning hours while it is still dark or as the sun is setting or rising.
“The elk and deer are foraging, and they are looking for the green vegetation that seems to grow quicker along the sides of the highways and roads,” he said. “They are moving late and early, and that is the perfect time for a driver to run into an elk or deer, and they both become victims.”
Drivers who hit wildlife are urged to get in touch with the state patrol or the sheriff’s office as soon as possible, deVergie said. Those agencies will respond to the accident, then, if the animal is still alive, they will contact the CPW and the situation will be handled, he said.
deVergie said that as new births take place in the area, drivers are again cautioned to be aware.
He said he expects the elk calving season to peak in the last week of May or the first week of June and that the birth of deer fawns will peak the second and third weeks of June.

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