A wildlife underpass completed late last year between Durango and Bayfield has proved to be a well-traveled thoroughfare for coyote, raccoons, mule deer and a few humans.
A surveillance camera has captured all of these animals – and more – using the tunnel that the Colorado Department of Transportation installed under U.S. Highway 160 just east of Lon’s Automotive, 36111 Highway 160, said Lisa Schwantes, CDOT spokeswoman.
The underpass is designed to give wildlife a safe crossing as they migrate south for winter or north for summer. The hope is to reduce the number of vehicle-wildlife collisions, Schwantes said.
“Our environmental team is anxious to see what numbers might prove to be like for 2017,” she said. “It’s going to take a few years to see what benefit this will be.”
The underpass cost $6.5 million, which includes widening the highway in anticipation of future improvements to the corridor between Durango and Bayfield, tall wildlife fencing to help direct animals to the underpass, and ramps to help wildlife that become trapped in the fenced corridor.
Construction started September 2015 and was completed November 2016, which included a pause in construction to accommodate migratory birds, Schwantes said.
“We’re very pleased with the evidence that our environmental team has been collecting so far on the cameras,” she said. “Every once in a while we’ll catch humans on the camera as well.”