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For deer sake, what’s town drivers’ best action?

Deer use a crosswalk on East Third Avenue in Durango. (Courtesy of Amanda Liese, file)

Dear Action Line: At 17th Street and Main Avenue, the deer cross in the crosswalk. It looks like The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” – it’s cute. They're colorblind so I’ll give them a pass for not obeying the signals. By Miller Middle School, a herd crosses all the time. I try to do the deer a favor by teaching them that cars are NOT their friend with my accelerator pedal. A couple days back a driver actually stopped and used her flashers so the deer could take their time. I wasn’t in a hurry, but I don’t think this driver is doing the deer any favors. What’s the best way to train deer about cars compassionately? – Deer Tolerator

Dear Deer: Oh dear, a dire decision desired about deer deeds.

Where to turn?

Of course: Colorado Parks and Wildlife. It’s even in the title. When they’re not parking, they’re watching wildlife. After patiently explaining to Action Line that “parks” has nothing to do with finding a spot to place your vehicle, an agency spokesman discussed a recently created school for deer.

“For the past several years, CPW has conducted a crosswalk safety course for town deer living west of the Animas River. Though participation numbers have fluctuated, we are seeing great success with this program,” said John Livingston, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s southwest region. Action Line was anxious to hear more about this groundbreaking training, but Livingston then added: “Of course, we are only joking about this.”

It's a little early for April Fools’ hijinks, but OK.

“All jokes aside,” Livingston continued, “it is pretty amazing to see deer around Durango navigate using the crosswalks. A recent scene at ‘malfunction junction,’ or whatever people call that intersection of 15th Street and East Third Avenue, was especially impressive as that crosswalk seems tricky for even non-hooved pedestrians to use safely. But an entire family of deer walked right through during a busy morning of rush-hour traffic as if there was nothing unusual about it.”

Livingston noted that this year’s snowpack has pushed even more animals onto roadways. They may seem docile or even tame, but deer are wild and unpredictable.

“We do not recommend speeding up toward or through them,” he said. “They may stop in the middle of the road when it appeared they were going to keep running across. They may leap back or change direction at any moment. A few seconds of impatience are not worth risking your health or personal property over.”

Deer may be colorblind, but they hear and cue in on movement, Livingston said. When they see one car stop, they may not hurry and move along.

“Use your horn and make yourself known so that the deer clear the road,” he said. “And if you see one deer crossing the road in front of you, always think about a ‘plus one.’ If you see one cross ahead, slow down because there’s likely another one or two behind it.”

Living in a mountain community means cohabitating with wildlife that includes not only deer, but bears, mountain lions, coyotes, elk and the ubiquitous outdoor-loving fun-hog, for starters. This cohabitation sometimes takes patience and understanding. And we’ll save the “don’t feed the bears” lecture for another day.

“If you're too impatient to wait for deer to cross roadways,” Livingston concluded, “you might not want to live in a mountain community because it is going to be a constant part of life.”

Cottonwood Curve

Despite Action Line’s valiant attempt to leave umbrage out of last week’s column, there was some to be taken. It was in the item about the intersection of County Road 302 and state Highway 172 southeast of Durango. Loyal reader and local filmmaker Larry Ruiz found it. He buttered up Action Line before dropping the hammer.

“I always look forward to Action Line each week,” Ruiz emailed. “Well that and the obits. Always gotta check to make sure I’m not in there.

“But I do take umbrage that, in your article, ‘Cottonwood Curve’ wasn’t mentioned. Maybe it’s because I’m an ‘old’ retired (Colorado Department of Transportation) hand and we had names for various sections of the roadway. Sigh, ‘Farmington Hill’ is soon doomed to slip into obscurity.”

Cottonwood Curve. Love it.

Dressing down

This came from “Shameless in Durango” in response to the questioner in a March 5 Action Line column about Durangoans wearing yoga pants.


“We ain’t got no stinkin’ shame! ... As a true Durangotang, I wholeheartedly embrace the ‘worst dressed’ sobriquet that discerning fashionistas bestowed on us. And based on a wildly unscientific poll of friends and neighbors, 99 percent of us Durangotangs have been striving for 30 years to live up to this incredible honor. In fact, the sleek, svelte yoga pants mentioned would be a step up for us!”

“Shameless” said every true Durangotang has in their closet:

“Flip-flops; Crocs (white and/or black for weddings and funerals); Tevas, Chacos or Keens for semiformal and wet occasions; baggy-board shorts; ratty old jeans and/or Carhartts; baseball caps for every occasion and a beat-up, old straw cowboy hat for special occasions; lots of T-shirts with or without logos mostly from volunteering for stuff; and lastly a hoodie, camo or not.”

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. According to this list, Action Line is close, but not quite a true Durangotang – or should that be Durangatang?

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