Elk crossing: June accounts for the most roadkill crashes in metro Denver

Data Desk

DENVER (KDVR) — Use caution on the roads this month, especially if you’re driving in areas of the state where wildlife frequently enters or is near the roadway — June has the highest number of crashes involving animals for any month in the Denver area.

This was evident Monday when a woman was killed after a crash with an elk in Castle Pines. The domino-effect crash ultimately sent 12 other people to the hospital.

The crash is representative of June. The Colorado Department of Transportation compiles annual roadkill lists – that is, all animals killed by vehicles.

In CDOT Region 1, which covers the counties in the Denver metro area, June has been by far the heaviest roadkill month.

More roadkills were reported in June than any other month in three of the years between 2016 and 2020. July claimed the most in the other two years.

In 2020, June saw nearly twice the roadkill incidents as the preceding June. There were 130 in June 2020 but only 72 in June 2019.

By roadkill, CDOT means mainly deer and elk.

The department tracks which species are reported for each roadkill, from badgers to mountain lions to geese.

Deer are the majority of roadkill in Region 1. Nearly three-quarters, or 374 of 522 animals killed, were deer. Elk were the next largest group roadkill – 44 of them were killed by vehicles in 2020.

Nor are these confined to backroads.

CDOT counted 48 deer struck on I-25 in 2020, and 72 deer struck on I-70.

On the flip side, June is one of the lower months for humans killed or injured in car crashes. July-October represent the deadliest months.

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