Moose man­age­ment pol­icy in­sane

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

For two decades of­fi­cials have con­sis­tently blamed driver inat­ten­tion as the pri­mary cause for moose ve­hi­cle col­li­sions.

By fo­cus­ing on driv­ers rather than moose noth­ing has changed and mo­torists are still dy­ing or be­ing crip­pled on our high­ways at an alarm­ing rate. Con­sid­er­ing the fact that 80 per cent of moose ve­hi­cle col­li­sions oc­cur be­tween June and Oc­to­ber all in­di­ca­tions are that this could be a very deadly sum­mer on our high­ways.

Po­lice have al­ready con­firmed four deaths and al­most 100 col­li­sions re­lated to moose so far this year.

Un­der gov­ern­ment’s cur­rent moose man­age­ment pol­icy of Max­i­mum Sus­tain­able Yield (MSY) mo­torists are not con­sid­ered in moose man­age­ment plans.

Op­er­at­ing un­der 1970’s leg­is­la­tion, gov­ern­ment’s man­date is to pro­duce as many moose as pos­si­ble to en­sure a 70-80 per cent hunter suc­cess rate. Al­though this pol­icy may have been jus­ti­fi­able 30 years ago when the moose pop­u­la­tion num­bered less than 40,000 an­i­mals, in the fast paced world of the 21st cen­tury this pol­icy bor­ders on in­san­ity.

With a moose pop­u­la­tion in ex­cess of 140,000 and most of what was wilder­ness when this pol­icy was en­acted now rid­dled with for­est ac­cess roads or other de­vel­op­ments com­bined with a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in mo­tor ve­hi­cles, it is im­pos­si­ble for a moose to travel any fur­ther than a few kilo­me­tres without en­coun­ter­ing a mo­tor ve­hi­cle.

Other than sug­gest­ing that mo­torists scan both sides of the high­way, gov­ern­ment has done lit­tle if any­thing to ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion. No doubt this sug­ges­tion works ex­tremely well dur­ing day light hours. How­ever since 80 per cent of all moose ve­hi­cle col­li­sions oc­cur be­tween dusk and dawn.

The re­al­ity is that un­less a mo­torist is trav­el­ling less than 50 km/ hr and wear­ing night vi­sion gog­gles it is im­pos­si­ble to spot a moose be­fore it jumps out of the ditch and onto the front of your ve­hi­cle.

The truth is, the pri­mary cause for the rise in moose ve­hi­cle col­li­sions is that there are just to many moose liv­ing within a few hun­dred me­tres of our high­ways.

The only so­lu­tion to re­duc­ing the high num­ber of moose ve­hi­cle col­li­sions on our is­land high­ways is to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the moose pop­u­la­tion and re­duce the speed limit on our high­ways be­tween dusk and dawn.

In 1989 there were 900 moose/ve­hi­cle col­li­sions re­sult­ing in four deaths and 290 in­juries. In 1990 gov­ern­ment bi­ol­o­gists Se­bas­tian M. Oosen­brug, Eu­gene W. Mercer and Stephen H. Fer­gu­son con­ducted a study on this high­way chaos. The au­thors con­cluded that the pri­mary cause for the 1989 high col­li­sion rate was the large moose pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mated to be about 170,000 an­i­mals.

Sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions were made to gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing moose in high-den­sity ar­eas ad­ja­cent to our ma­jor high­ways and re­duc­ing speed lim­its at night. It is now clear that had those two rec­om­men­da­tions alone been im­ple­mented many lives could have been saved and hun­dreds of se­ri­ous in­juries avoided dur­ing this past 20 years.

Iron­i­cally dur­ing the 2003 elec­tion cam­paign Danny Wil­liams made a prom­ise that if elected he would con­duct an in­de­pen­dent re­view of all as­pects of moose man­age­ment in this prov­ince.

Now with the sum­mer of 2009 shap­ing up to be one of the dead­li­est on record I would sug­gest that there is no bet­ter time than now for Premier Wil­liams to act on this 2003 prom­ise. How­ever if he would like to ad­dress this is­sue im­me­di­ately all he need do is re­fer to the 1990 study ref­er­enced above. This study is as ap­pli­ca­ble to­day as it was 20 years ago.

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