10 Elk Killed After Bus Plows Into Herd on Colorado Highway

by Michael Freeman

I think many of us have had incidents with animals straying onto the road and trying to avoid them. Unfortunately, an extreme case of that happened on a Colorado highway, where a bus accidentally drove into a herd of elk, killing 10 of them.

Aspen Daily News reported the crash happened Tuesday night on Highway 82 near Glenwood Springs. The accident involved a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus and a second vehicle. RFTA Communications Manager Jamie Tatsuno reported the crash specifics in an email Aspen Daily News obtained. “The bus was traveling approximately 50 mph (speed limit 65 mph) in snowy conditions when a large herd of elk entered the downvalley travel lanes from the median,” Tatsuno wrote. “The bus was unable to avoid them and struck several elk.”

Reports disclose the bus contained three passengers, as well as the driver. Luckily the crash didn’t hurt any of the passengers. Colorado State Trooper Gary Cutler responded to the crash and said the second vehicle’s occupants remained unharmed as well. However, the vehicle did strike one of the elk in the road and rolled over.

Authorities state the elk found their way onto the road through a wildlife fence opening. This fact has prompted wildlife enthusiasts in the area to suggest better methods of avoiding vehicle wildlife fatalities. One passionate group even created a Facebook group called “Roaring Fork Valley Wildlife Overpass Advocates.” The group strives to construct wildlife overpasses, as well as a science-based strategy for protecting local animals.

Additionally, Colorado locals created a petition on Change.org for a “wildlife corridor” half a year ago. Before the elk incident even occurred, the petition’s creators noted Highway 82 is a “high-risk road for wildlife-vehicle collisions.”

Pitkin County Commissioner Greg Poschman said now is a great time to support protective wildlife efforts and I’m inclined to agree.

Michigan Elk Herd Falls Through Ice on Pond and Die

Unfortunately, the elk accident in Colorado isn’t the only tragedy to befall the species this month. A few weeks ago in Michigan, an elk herd was crossing a frozen pond but fell through the ice and died.

Outdoor Life broke the story, stating a dozen elk in Ostego, Michigan were crossing a private pond and fell through on December 14. Only two inches of snow covered the ice, likely making the elk think it was safe to cross. Two elk hunting guides happened to be in the area and called Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for assistance.

The hunters used a chainsaw to try and clear a path through the ice until help arrived, but it sadly wasn’t enough. Sgt. Mark Depew from the DNR Law Enforcement Division stated it was too dangerous to continue rescue attempts. “For the safety of the guides, conservation officers ordered them off the ice to prevent another tragedy,” Depew said.

Though the incident is tragic, local food banks reported professionals successfully harvested the elk’s meat.