Colorado's wildlife overpasses and underpasses are keeping both animals and drivers safe, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). That's something we can all appreciate.
There are 30 such passages throughout the state, with two that cross a highway.
"They're extremely important,” Jeff Peterson, wildlife program manager for CDOT, told the Denver Post. "When you get into conflicts with wildlife, that raises the issue."
Statistics obtained by the CDOT showed that from 2006 to 2016 on U.S. Highway 160, in the area between Durango, and Bayfield, drivers and animals collided 472 times. Many of those incidents involved mule deer.
An underpass was constructed in this area and completed in 2016. Since then remote cameras have snapped images of wildlife using the underpass including deer, raccoons, coyotes, and other small animals, all taking advantage of the safer route.
"At the [Durango] underpass we're seeing a large number of mule deer going through the structure daily," CDOT biologist Mark Lawler told the Post. "Animals are using the structure; we're not just moving the problem."
The CDOT and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to identify other spaces along highways that might benefit from wildlife crossings.
Wildlife pass-throughs have proven effective in other states. Thanks to the creation of wildlife underpasses, Florida had had a reduction in road-related deaths of the Florida panther, while Wyoming has seen similar success with its mule deer population. That state's crossings, including underpasses and deer-tight fencing, have reduced deer and vehicles collisions by 85 percent.
In December, The Washington State Department of Transportation reported the first visual evidence that animals were using its latest wildlife crossing. A coyote was spotted taking full advantage of the bridge to cross the interstate. The bridge is the first of its kind in the state with 19 other animal crossings slated to open in the next few years.
Wildlife crossings can be expensive to construct, according to the Post, with costs ranging between $300,000 to well past $1 million. In Colorado, these crossings are built with tax dollars.
Then again, not having them can prove expensive as well. Insurance companies estimate that wildlife collisions average about $4,000 an incident. Along those lines, a 2005 report from the Virginia Transportation Research Council found that even with a minimal reduction in collisions, "the savings in property damage alone can outweigh the construction costs of the structure."
"We want to make sure that if were going to do it, we're doing it right. That’s why we don't just throw them in everywhere we can," Peterson said to the Post. "Putting the correct crossing in the correct place for the species you want to get from one place to another — that's where it gets tricky."
That dreaded word ‘colic’! It is a word that no horse owner wants to encounter! Whether it is a mild or more severe case of abdominal pain in your horse, it is important to have an action plan in place if it does happen to occur.
Below are 10 steps to ensure that you are prepared for a case of colic in your own equine.
1.Check Your Horses Vital Signs – by checking your horse’s heart rate, temperature and recording their other clinical signs (ie – pawing/rolling/stretching, this allows you pick up whether the horse may be distressed, gives you the ability to monitor these signs over a period of time, and also allows you to pass this information onto your veterinarian
2.Look for Poo! - Quite often simply finding the animals faeces (or lack of) may give your veterinarian a vital clue as to why your horse is having abdominal pains.
3.Investigate – Look for anything out of the ordinary: Has your horse not eaten dinner? Is the hay very new or old? Is there a lot of fresh pasture around, or is it very dry and weed burdened? Are there poisonous weeds about? Have you changed the horses feed supplier, routine, or hay supplier? These are all things that can trigger off a bout of colic and useful information for your vet.
4.Call Your Veterinarian! - Regardless of the severity or vagueness of the signs, never take a wait and see approach with colic symptoms. Waiting too long could allow minor problems to become severe, and severe problems to become untreatable. A simple phone call to your vet allows you to relay the clinical signs and symptoms and have the veterinarian evaluate whether they need to attend the horse immediately or whether the owner can continue to monitor the horse and phone the veterinarian if symptoms worsen.
5.Closely Monitor Your Horse – ensure that you continue to check your horse every 15-20 minutes whilst symptoms are present. Colic symptoms can worsen rapidly, so it is vital that you are checking your horse frequently to pick up any signs of their condition changing.
6.Walk Your Horse – Walking can assist moving gas through the gut and can prevent injury from rolling. Most mild colics will even clear up from just a simple brisk walk. Try to walk the horse to keep them comfortable, but never to the point of exhaustion. Never aggressively exercise the horse. It is important that a horse maintains hydrated and energy levels up. If the colic symptoms are quite prominent and the veterinarian is on the way, try to keep the horse moving until the vet arrives.
7.Do Not Feed! Feed may have been the reason for the tummy ache to begin with! Remove any access to hay or grain and if the pasture is quite green and lush, try to put the horse in yard that has limited access until the horse has been seen by your veterinarian or the symptoms subside.
8.Never medicate without your veterinarian’s approval! Pain medications can mask clinical signs, making it more difficult for your veterinarian to get a timely, accurate diagnosis. Never treat your horse without consulting your veterinarian first.
9.Be Prepared! If your veterinarian is on their way, ensure that you have a safe, well lit area for examination, access to clean water (in case stomach tubing the horse is required), and also access to power can helpful in some cases where ultrasound of the abdomen is required.
10.Think about transport – Have a plan in place, so that If the horse does need to go into the clinic for further monitoring or surgery, you are able to get them there safely and efficiently.
If ever in doubt, phone your veterinarian. Early prognosis and intervention is always critical for a successful outcome.