Up close and personal photos of wildlife at Vail Pass

Traffic on I-70 is getting worse and worse, but the amount of wildlife near I-70 is also nerve wracking.

VAIL PASS - Wildlife against speeding car. You never know what the outcome of that scary competition might be.

One study on Vail Pass is trying to make it a win-win situation for both the four-wheeled and the four-legged kind.

"We want to make sure it helps the wildlife, but also make sure we're mitigating accidents as well," said Erica Garroutte, a conservation outreach coordinator at the Denver Zoo.

Garroutte works closely with Paige Singer, who's with a regional conservation organization known as Rocky Mountain Wild. Along with a group of volunteers, Garroutte and Singer set up cameras along Vail Pass to capture photos of wildlife in the area.

The project is in its third year. In just the first two years, the cameras snapped around 50,000 photos.

"We've got a lot of moose, elk, bear, deer, we've seen porcupine, we see fox, coyotes, quite a few mountain lion," Garroutte said. "We've also been lucky enough to capture lynx."

Garroutte and Singer hope to use these picture to make a case for a wildlife overpass to be built over westbound Interstate 70 for both the safety of animals and people.

"In this area, you've got elk and moose, and if you hit those animals going fast, it's not going to end pretty for you or the animal," Singer said.

According to Singer, these projects can cost millions, but the projects will pay for themselves.

"They can be kind of pricey, but they really do pay for themselves over time because they reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions," she said, "and you don't have insurance payments people are dealing with - you don't have hospital bills if someone gets into an accident."

Garroutte said they are always in need of volunteers to help out with the project, which requires a bit of hiking along the Vail pass corridor. To learn more about the project, visit their website.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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