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The Vail Police Department and wildlife officers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife are asking motorists to be extremely cautious when traveling on Interstate 70 and along the North Frontage Road in East Vail due to the unpredictable movement of bighorn sheep in the area.
The advisory is being issued after a ram was hit and killed earlier today, Dec. 2, as it wandered onto the westbound I-70 onramp at mile marker 180. The single vehicle crash occurred at approximately 11:39 a.m. Wildlife officers were immediately called to the scene to investigate.
Earlier in the morning, Vail code enforcement officers had been dispatched to help move a significant number of rams and ewes away from the roadway. The officers were returning to assist with a second safety sweep when the ram was hit.
According to Devin Duval, CPW district wildlife manager, the erratic sheep behavior is occurring due to the bighorn sheep mating season which typically runs from November through December with early December being the peak. “This time of year, rams are almost exclusively concerned with mating, not with perceived risks of traffic,” said Duval. “This, coupled with recent weather events and more ewes on their winter range earlier have created conditions that are ripe for conflict along the roadways in East Vail.”
The Police Department has installed two variable message sign boards that are warning drivers about the presence of sheep on the roadways. Motorists are advised to call 911 to report safety concerns. Code enforcement officers are being dispatched regularly to direct traffic until the sheep are clear of the road.
For additional details, contact Duval at 970-930-5264.