Lawyers renewed their criticisms of an expert witness during closing arguments Tuesday in a class-action suit against the provincial government over moose-vehicle collisions.
© — Telegram file photo
Tony Clevenger, an Alberta-based wildlife ecologist, testified in April the government was using ineffective measures to prevent drivers from hitting moose, and stood by his report even after admitting under cross-examinations that his report contained errors and speculation.
As both sides presented their final arguments in Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday, government lawyer David Rodgers called Clevenger’s report “advocacy disguised as science,” and said his conclusions were tailored to help the plaintiffs’ case.
Plaintiff lawyers Ches Crosbie and Jessica Dellow argued the provincial government, in introducing the non-native animal to Newfoundland and Labrador more than a century ago, is liable for the hundreds of collisions that happen every year, which they argue outweigh any benefits the province receives from the moose population.
“It’s being done for the benefit of the outfitting industry, perhaps, and the few hunters who would obtain a licence and hunt a moose,” said Dellow.
By undertaking measures to help mitigate collisions — public awareness campaigns, brush-clearing and highway signage — the province acknowledges its responsibility to prevent collisions, argued plaintiffs’ counsel.
That’s not so, said the government’s lawyer.
Rodgers said the province is no more liable for a moose-vehicle collision than it is for a collision between two motorists.
“We do not own the moose. We don’t control the moose’s movement,” said Rodgers.
Justice Robert Stack said he’d render a decision as quickly as possible.