Moose cull makes sense for road safety

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One of Canada’s greatest icons has unfortunately become a serious threat to public safety. Last year, there were approximately 800 vehicle collisions with moose in Newfoundland alone. That works out to more than two automobile-moose collisions per day.  

An automobile collision with a moose often leaves the occupants of the vehicle dead.

If the occupants do survive, their injuries are often severe. The severely injured occupant will have two wishes; one, that the accident never happened, and two, that they did not survive.

The nature of an automobile-moose collision leads to the most catastrophic of injuries such as brain and spinal cord injuries.  

Moose weigh up to 2,000 lb and most of their weight is supported on very long legs. This results in the mass of the animal flying through the windshield of a typical vehicle and devastating its occupants.  

It is very difficult for an individual to survive a collision with a moose, and if they do, injuries are so terrible that their lives can be destroyed. Without the financial resources to provide appropriate homecare or equipment, this can leave a survivor of a moose collision in terrible circumstances.

Imagine driving along a highway where brick walls would randomly appear in front of you. There is no time to react and a collision is inevitable. In fact, it is better to run into a brick wall with your car than into a moose. At least with the brick wall, the front of your car absorbs the shock.

In my automobile-moose collision (in 1996), the 2,000-lb moose went through the windshield, flew over me, ripped back the top half of the car (like a sardine container), landed in the back seat, flew back over me and out the front window when the vehicle hit the ditch, and was found in front of my vehicle.

The hood of the car was barely scratched. I was left a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down.   

My colleague, Newfoundland and Labrador Senator Fabian Manning, was in an automobile-moose collision a few years ago.  Remarkably, he survived with minor injuries but, as he has told me, he could have just as likely been killed or paralyzed like myself.  

Unlike the rest of Canada, moose are not indigenous to the island of Newfoundland. Four moose were introduced by the government of Newfoundland over 100 years ago. The moose are an invasive species to the island and their population has boomed due to the fact that there are no natural predators.

Therefore, the obvious solution is to cull (in other words kill) all the moose on the island. Removing all the moose from the island will be a huge public safety benefit, it is the environmentally friendly action to take, and it makes economic sense.

Some people will complain about the rights of the moose.

Since the choice has become the well-being and safety of humans or that of the invasive moose, the choice should be obvious.  

Other solutions have been proposed, such as fences along highways, increased hunting without total elimination of moose, and other methods. The only foolproof method to eliminate moose collisions is to eliminate the moose. The island of Newfoundland is the only part of North America in the position to do so with the added benefit of bringing the island into more of its original environmental state.

You cannot sue a moose and most automobile insurance, regardless of where you reside in the country, does not provide adequate resources to compensate for the types of catastrophic injuries that result from automobile-moose collisions.

Not surprisingly, there is a case before the court in Newfoundland where some victims of automobile-moose collisions are suing the province for compensation since automobile or private insurance does  not protect drivers from automobile-moose collisions.  

Without getting into details about any specific case, long litigious fights with insurance companies, government and other stakeholders are very common with automobile-moose collisions. The financial burden on the victims of automobile-moose collisions is profound and can cost tens of millions of dollars over a lifetime.   

Of course, for the victim and the families, no price can be put on the pain, suffering and the reduction in the victim’s quality of life or their ability to contribute to society.

Newfoundland is in a unique situation and future tragedies from moose collisions can be completely avoided if the appropriate steps are taken.  

The economic impact due to personal injury, property damage, litigious lawsuits, loss of productivity, will far outweigh any possible economic benefit that may exist to tourism associated with the moose hunt.  It will take time to rid Newfoundland of over 100,000 moose.   It would seem to be an economic boom to those involved in the moose hunt to help in the cull of the moose and in the years it takes to rid Newfoundland of the moose pests.  

Newfoundland will continue to be one of the most majestic places on planet Earth and a lot safer without moose.  

Steven Fletcher

PC MP for Charleswood–St. James–Assiniboia–Headingley, Man.

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, North America Charleswood

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Recent comments

  • Albert
    August 15, 2013 - 14:17

    The vast majority of highway accidents are caused by speeding, exacerbated by the numerous distractions from the technology we now have. If it were not for the fear of a moose coming onto the highway I think the overall number of highway accidents would be a great deal higher than they are now. Moose are in fact " The Newfie speed bump. If the speed bump were removed , as was suggested by the Manitoba member ,I wounder just how many would be added to the overall number of accidents and deaths. Anyone care to take a guess? It could be that moose are saving lives and reducing accidents and not the other way around. I also have to wounder why, with almost one hundred thousand (100,000) people, applying for moose licences each year , that there is such an insignificant response from hunters. I am led to believe that they do not care if the population is destroyed. Albert.

  • Robert
    August 14, 2013 - 20:00

    Mr. Nippard, you owe an apology to every person in this province who has lost a loved one on the highways, because you don't give crap about any death unless it involves moose. Your cause is so transparent, in that you have VOCM Backtalk that happens to be sponsored by Crosbie Barristers, who happen to have a law suit against government as your avenue to air your myths about moose vehicle accidents. You have unlimited access to the public airways on all call in shows while people who oppose your views are censored, as are the comments that people post to the VOCM website about the stories related to moose. It is disgusting how a topic has been so blown out of proportion and has only received the views of one side. It is all about money and hopefully The Telegram will publish my view and will not choose only those views that support one side of the story. Isn't that what true journalism is all about?

  • Colin
    August 13, 2013 - 21:08

    The main problem I can see any mp having with Moose is they don't pay rent and there is no way to tax them. There are people on our roads and highways that put others in danger everyday and like I said above these are not just highway drivers but people in our town and cities, texting, drink and driving, speeding all of which cause more death or injuries then moose. The only difference is The cell phone industry employees people those people in turn pay taxes, same can be said for alcohol it seems death is only an acceptable risk if it comes with the promise of profit. Wouldn't a fair statement also be we could cut down on moose vehicle accidents if we got rid of all the cars in the province, but that would not be practical or profitable.

  • Joseph
    August 12, 2013 - 13:45

    What a pile of drivel this letter is. He must also be friends with Eugene Nippard and Sopac. People are dying on our highways all the time and the moose are not the main culprits. Texting, speeding , alcohol, no seatbelts and the list goes on and on for the real causes of highway accidents. The only reason these stories keep popping up is to try to get money from that stupid lawsuit. People always want to blame someone else for their poor driving habits but themselves. Anyone who would suggest wiping out an entire population of animals to stop a few accidents need their head examined. I think the highways would be more dangerous without the moose as the idiots would be driving even faster out there. Look at the most recent RCMP highway fatality stats and there is not one moose related death among them. This just proves what I always believed of Sopac and this letter writer. Deaths on the highway are fine as long as no moose are involved.

    • Eugene Nippard
      August 13, 2013 - 21:06

      Joseph I'm sorry you feel this way about what myself and SOPAC are trying to accomplish, which is to make the highways safer to protect your neck, your family & friends. When you drive the highways again and see the brush cut ,16 kms. of fencing on west coast and all the awareness of this serious problem, if common sense sets in you can thank people like Eugene Nippard and SOPAC.I do believe we are saving lives and haven't had a fatality in the past 2 yrs. I'm a moose vehicle accident victim and have had 6 of my immediate family in moose accidents including a cousin in wheelchair for yrs. totally disabled. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy including you.(God Bless and have a safe summer)

    • Joseph
      August 15, 2013 - 15:46

      Nippard, you don't need to keep the roads safe for me. If you were worried about road safety you would be commenting on all the people dying from the real causes. You have such a myopic view that you are blinded by your hatred for a poor defenseless animal that only acts on instinct. I am tired of hearing you spout your nonsense every day on the Open Line Shows.You must think you are a media darling...

  • Agreed
    August 11, 2013 - 18:59

    Makes sense to me.

  • Ruth
    August 11, 2013 - 11:14

    I totally agree with everything you are saying ... I detest moose !!! I know there will be some out there that will argue the fact of the moose hunt for meat ...o.k. how about this ... contain the moose and make a profitable business out of it ...there are elk ranches and bison ranches and whatever else ... treat them like cattle ...contain them on a "ranch" and kill them humanely for the meat ...perfect win / win situation don't you think ???

  • Josie W.
    August 11, 2013 - 10:09

    . Killem all. If we spray agent white with waterbombers, we may have a grand genocide without having to put boots on the ground. This moose cull would be great practice for assault drone operators. We must not leave one of these brown bog terrorists standing on their spindly legs. I stand with Mr. Fletcher on this issue of homeland security. Imagine if the biker gangs were doing 800vicious assaults per year? Killem.

  • linda mcintosh
    August 11, 2013 - 00:14

    This letter makes an excellent point which needs to be given serious consideration. The moose is not native to Newfoundland. Its introduction to the island and its subsequent overpopulation has greatly upset the natural balance of nature there and created a serious threat to the safety of human beings. Corrective measures need to be taken to rid Newfoundland of these animals and the only measure guaranteed to work is to cull.

  • Anon
    August 10, 2013 - 20:04

    So the moose population decreases at a time when moose collisions are occurring more frequently but yet you suggest a total cull? More people are killed by other people far more than moose, to suggest that killing all the moose will save people pain and suffering is absurd. Statistically it can save anyhwere from 0-5 lives a year, perhaps more. The number is far smaller than those killed or injured in traffic collisions - or even drunk driving. Should we make cars illegal? Should we bring back prohibition? Then why should we kill all the moose? Ecologically it doesn't make sense. They may be an invasive species but they've adapted to the island and the island has adapted to them. To remove them will force the island to adapt once again. The effects are unpredictable but to suggest that they can only be positive is simply unfounded. Furthermore, there are still small towns on this island where moose meat effectively replaces thousands of pounds of imported steak every year. So where's the economic benefit? Is it at sobeys, cause it sure aint in Joe Fisherman's wallet once you take away his moose roast and sausages. You'd have better luck, more success and a lot more support lobbying government to force car insurance providers to treat moose vehicle collisions the same as any other single-vehicle collision. Just as long as it don't cost me any more money than it already does. While I've been writing this I've been trying to find data as to the amount of people actually killed last year in the collisions you quoted however i've yet to find one. And although serious injuries can be just as bad or worse for many people, moose accidents aren't any more dangerous to human life and injury as everyday traffic and road conditions - if not less. To assert that a cull will somehow benefit every man, woman and child in this province, benefit them economically and somehow fix the supposedly broken ecosystem of the province is completely and utterly unfounded and amounts to an emotional overreaction. In the meantime however, I'm sure Labrador will still be majestic with it's moose right?

    • Pretty Brother
      August 12, 2013 - 10:40

      Rex Murphy had a column touching on these issues. He gave a camel cull in Australia as an example. We may get carbon offset credit for killing these animals! So many ways to make money these days. We could shoot moose from a helicopter, let the carcass remain' and still get paid. Better than the seal hunt. Gwynne Dyer column speaks about artificial beef from Britian. Killing our moose and eating frankenburgers adheres to the overarching logic of worldwide emissions control. Sick.

  • Foolproof
    August 10, 2013 - 17:12

    Reduce speed, seat belts. Avoid driving at dawn and dusk if possible. If you must, drive a truck. Expand the hunt. There is no net benefit of a tourism-associated hunt, yet you say it would seem like an economic boom to those involved in the cull. Are foreign hunters going to do the job for us? I suppose beef prices will rise once the last moose is gone. Then people can drive as fast as the economy needs them to. Awareness is key, but you promote fear and the worst king of reactionary thinking. Mass killing. An educated population doesn't require a foolproof final solution.

  • Cyril Rogers
    August 10, 2013 - 09:23

    Interesting solution from Mr. Fletcher, but not one that will attract a lot of support, I would suspect. The moose problem is exacerbated by successive provincial governments refusing to take meaningful steps to properly construct highways and clear the foliage back much further than they do at present. Our road construction efforts are pathetic, in Newfoundland and Canada generally. We may think of the United States of America as an economic basket case right now but they sure know how to construct roads, especially in the difficult areas like mountains and rough terrain. They don't do it by half measures and they clear the sides, maintain it, and landscape it properly for thousands of miles. This applies to lots of secondary roads, as well as their major Interstate highways. We are throwing good money away every year by the ugly brush cutting being done along the TCH....... only to see the foliage return with a fury in two or three years. Again, it is merely a reflection of a lack of long-term planningand but one more example of a long line of governments throwing "our" money around to try and appease people.......and make it appear that they are actually doing something. To paraphrase John Crosbie in reverse....its short term gain for long term pain.

  • Cashin Delaney
    August 10, 2013 - 07:39

    We should have a moose hunt in support of local food charities and fundraisers. I'm sorry you got crippled so young, and we should all take more care when driving through populated areas. It will take time to rid Newfouldland of her moose. I would rather have a country-wide cull of politicians who see opportunities to push extermination for profit while they have more pressing issues to attend to. Some people may complain about the rights of politicians... Highways have dangers. We have hockey players going around with their heads down getting themselves into the same condition. Look on the bright side, Ryan Cleary, Fabian Manning and yourself are still above the sod. Live Boys! Find another solution to champion that does not involve extermination, NL has had it's share. The people with real knowledge, not the overreacting victims of their own driving mistakes, have solutions. Citizens want freedom and rights on the highway, but none of the duties and responsibilities that go with it. People hit the highway half-asleep with no more awareness than someone getting on the Internet, expecting their government to make them safe. Worse, this government enforces their stupidity and wastes their money for them on bells and whistles, and other foolishness. Think of moose as an edible culling mechanism for inattentive, speeding drivers in unsuitable vehicles.

  • Shawn holloway
    August 10, 2013 - 06:59

    You make it sound like it is all the moose fault If people would slow down and drive the speed limit it at night would cut down on accidents