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Letter: We need more moose data

Published on September 9, 2017

Moose in Gros Morne.

©Western Star file photo

Given the amount of emphasis that those who wish to prevent highway fatalities put on moose, (and given that other causes such as speeding, distracted driving, etc. cause 95 per cent of highway fatalities) one gets the feeling that there is a personal vendetta against those animals.

We all want to make the highways as safe as possible, and every accident is heartbreaking,  but we do not wish to live in a province devoid of  big game animals.

There are many things we should do to mitigate the possibility of a moose-vehicle collision and such has been regurgitated over and over on the Open Line shows, but the feeling we get is that that some people would be quite content to eliminate all moose on the island.

I wish you would try and ascertain from the proper officials the latest estimate of moose on the island, rather than the numbers we see thrown around with not a shred of evidence.

The anecdotal evidence is that the population is way down from a few years ago. As a matter of fact, I just had a call from a fellow who heard me on Open Line yesterday, telling me that he has travelled from Grand Falls to Thorburn Lake area every week for the past 17 years —  twice a week — and he saw more moose one morning 17 years ago than he sees all summer now.

Like he said, no one wants to hear of an accident, and for sure we have had enough heart-breaking tragedies this summer already, but let’s gets the facts before we start the conservation.

Here are a few facts to consider in the equation:

(1) Almost no police enforcement on the highways. Anyone who drives the TCH regularly will agree with that. Every time I drive to St. John’s I am amazed at the speeds on the TCH!  That is not to say all moose accidents involve speeding.

(2) Number of motor vehicles on the highways tripled (or more ) in the past few years, increasing the chance of a moose vehicle collision.

(3) As moose become scarcer, and sightings on the highways become more rare, there is the normal tendency to have a lesser level of consciousness of the danger and perhaps a less focused view of the road in terms of scanning for moose.

(4) Many main highways are now so overgrown along the shoulders that a moose can have his rear end in the alder bed and his front legs on the pavement.

 (5) N.L. Wildlife do not have any idea of the numbers of moose in the province. Certainly the deep snow last winter on the west coast ( Baie Verte area ) took a toll on the moose. I would like to see a realistic count so we could start the discussion from there.

 

David Boyd

Twillingate