Most Coloradans are accustomed to having encounters with wildlife. After all, our state is notorious for its rugged wilderness and numerous ranches. From wild animals like bears and deer to domesticated ones like cattle and horses, there is no shortage of animals for us to see. Still, when animals venture from their habitats and encroach upon the human world, the results can be unexpected.
One common example is when animals stray onto our roadways. Even the most experienced Colorado driver can be the unwitting victim of an animal-related collision. And according to a recent study, car accidents involving animals are becoming increasingly common.
An investigation from Colorado Parks and Wildlife has uncovered this alarming trend. According to its data, the number of collisions related to animals increased over the past four years. While most of these crashes occurred in rural locations, the Denver metro area also saw an increase in such incidents. In 2013, Denver saw 425 animal-related accidents, up from 239 in 2014. Southwest Colorado and Northwest Colorado were the areas with the highest number of crashes involving animals—a total of 4,151 out of the 6,858 reported in 2016.
Humans have a limited amount of control over the movements and behavior of wild animals. Usually it is up to motorists to drive defensively and be mindful of wildlife. Livestock, however, is a different issue. In Colorado, the owners of livestock are legally required to keep their animals in an enclosed area, away from roadways. In these incidents, if an attorney can show that an animal’s owner did not take adequate precautions to keep it away from the roads, the driver may have grounds for a lawsuit. Unfortunately, drivers who crash because of a wild animal don’t really have this option—it would be pretty difficult to sue a deer.