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That’s why you have a better chance of taking down a deer next week

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Drivers should use extra caution next week during dawn and dusk trips, Colorado wildlife officials say.

Because of the transition from daylight savings time to standard time, drivers are on the road more often at the same time as wildlife that migrate for the winter and mating season, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Officials are asking drivers to use caution and share the road with wildlife when traveling after dark. Fall is the peak of seasonal mating and migration for many species, and winter storms often push wildlife out of the “high country” and into lower areas, officials say.

Colorado state transportation officials and a group of biologists are also urging drivers to be careful and avoid accidents involving or caused by wildlife — and not just in Colorado.

November usually has more wildlife accidents than any other month, especially during the week or two after the end of daylight savings time, the researchers wrote in a study published Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Current Biology.

“We saw these huge, dramatic changes in human activity related to the time of sunrise and sunset, so it made us wonder if humans respond to a clock, while animals respond to daylight, does that then create more opportunities for human-wildlife conflict?” biologist Calum Cunningham told WBTV.

Cunningham’s team from the University of Washington in Seattle used data from the US Department of Transportation to analyze more than a million accidents between cars and deer, the publication reported.

Their study found that collisions were 14 times more likely to occur two hours after sunset than before sunset, the report said. The researchers also found that car collisions with deer increase by about 16% in the week following the fall clock change.

The probability of hitting a deer remains higher during standard times, the researchers found.

Deer encounters begin to increase between late October and November in about 23 states.

Another reason is that the time change coincides with deer hunting season, as bucks wander around looking for a mating opportunity. The time change also shifts driver trips into the dark hours, according to WWLP.

The researchers say that changing to daylight saving time on a permanent basis would reduce collisions and save lives. Colorado Wildlife and Transportation officials said the departments want to implement more “wildlife mitigation features” in highway improvement projects, such as overpasses, underpasses, high fences with escape ramps and wildlife guards along the highway.

Steve McClung, assistant wildlife warden for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, emphasized the importance of following speed limits.

“With the changing seasons and the snow in the mountains, we’re seeing a lot of deer and elk on our roads that motorists need to be aware of,” McClung said. “Remember many of our motorways have reduced speed limits from dusk to dawn to prevent collisions with wildlife. Drivers should be aware of animals in the city, on provincial roads and highways and watch the road and roadsides to prevent dangerous collisions.’

Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 6. Therefore, do not forget not only to turn the clocks back one hour, but also to be more careful during morning and night trips.

Brooke (she/they) is a real-time reporter for McClatchy covering LGBTQ+ and Western news. They studied journalism at the University of Florida and previously covered LGBTQ+ news for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. When they are not writing stories, they enjoy spending time with their cats, horseback riding, or spending time outdoors.

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