GUNNISON, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers have a problem they need help with. Elk and deer are getting too close to roads in the Gunnison Basin.

Wildlife officers hope food will lure the thousands of big game animals off the highway, and with so much snow there, it’s easy to see why the animals have gathered along the cleared road.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“Our concern is the Highway 50 travel corridor,” J Wenum with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.

Deer and elk herds are easy to spot as their brown bodies contrast against the white snow.

“We are seeing, unfortunately, an increase in roadkill or vehicle-wildlife collisions. We’ve got concerns about the public safety aspect,” Wenum said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Wildlife managers are preparing to take action. They are not going to begin feeding just yet. Instead they are trying another method to get the animals away from Highway 50.

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“In this case we’re trying to bait animals and hoping it will be a shorter and smaller scale, and the intent is to pull those animals away from the highway,” Wenum said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

If the weather cooperates the hope is the animals will spread out and begin finding their natural foods again.

“There’s about a 55-mile stretch that has really been impacted by recent snows. We’re estimating probably 6,000 to 8,000 animals.”

It’s a controversial topic among animal lovers, landowners and hunters who all are watching closely.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“We have heard a great deal from the public; many folks are concerned.”

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The bait sites can quickly be converted to feed sites if weather conditions deteriorate more. That hasn’t happened since the record winter of 2007-2008.