A recent letter to the editor by David Boyd raised a concern that the possible success in court of the moose class action against the government of Newfoundland and Labrador would result in the elimination of moose from the island (“The perils of blaming moose,” Dec. 19).
The writer feared that government “will have no choice but to eliminate the moose, as once the legal precedent has been set, the financial burden of every future collision will be placed upon the taxpayers of the province.”
As a recently retired wildlife conservation officer, I believe I am in a position to speak to the proper place of moose in our province. And having suffered a spinal cord injury in a collision with a moose on Oct. 8, 2006, I am in a position to say something about the moose lawsuit spearheaded by lawyer Ches Crosbie.
I recently told the story of my life before and after the moose collision that changed my life forever, and outlined my views on moose in “Into the Mist: A New Dawn, A New Day” (DRC Publishing).
Before anyone suggests I must not have been paying attention to my driving or was speeding and the collision was therefore my fault, let them read my account in “Into the Mist.”
As I state in my book, 120,000 to 130,000 moose on the island is an absurdly high number.
Perhaps 80,000 animals would be more reasonable.
First, I do not call for extermination of moose.
They are a valuable resource.
But the province should reduce moose numbers to around 80,000 and bring hunting success ratios in line with the national average.
This reduction in moose numbers would by itself have a significant impact in lowering collision rates, while maintaining a viable hunt.
Second, the province should apply fencing to prevent access to roadways in areas where moose densities and collision frequencies are high.
Third, brush-cutting programs should be continued and expanded.
Fourth, when a nuisance animal is identified, an officer from an appropriate department should be sent to dispatch the animal and remove the imminent danger of intrusion onto the highway.
Government need not eliminate moose in order to eliminate the possibility of future lawsuits.
To prevent future lawsuits, government only has to take reasonable measures such as population reduction and fencing, which have proven effective in many other jurisdictions in North America.
The peril of not blaming moose — and the provincial authorities responsible for them — is that the toll of unnecessary carnage on our highways will continue.
My life was changed forever in 2006. Your life could be next.
Brent Cole writes from Whitbourne.