Safety issues with hunting along roadways, says Charlene Johnson
The Minister of Environment and Conservation would like to see a solution to our moose accident problem as well as everyone else. But she doesn’t see shooting nuisance animals on the sides of our highways as the answer.
A proposal by a group that would allow hunters to shoot moose that venture near our highways — and causing a safety concern for motorists — is getting a chilly reception from the provincial government.
“ I can’t dismiss it right off the top. But if it involves shooting from the side of the road, I mean that goes against the law. We can’t do that. We can’t do anything that will cause further harm to people,” said Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation.
The Trinity Bay de Verde MHA was responding to a concept put forward last week by an ad hoc group called Save Our People, which was formed last year by private citizens who want to reduce the number of moose-vehicle accidents in the province.
The group presented a petition containing more than 20,000 signatures to the House of Assembly last fall, calling on government to take action against what they say is an overpopulation of moose.
Several members of the committee presented its “moose removal” proposal to Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale last Wednesday Feb. 10.
Under the plan, the group would like to see the creation of special licenses that could be purchased at government offices for about $100 by those qualified to hunt big game. A moose hotline would be established so motorists who encounter a nuisance animal along the roadway could report the animal’s location.
Someone with one of these licenses would then be contacted and asked to shoot the moose.
The program would be in place year-round, and not just during the fall hunting season.
The group said such a program would dramatically reduce the number of accidents — some 450 last year, according to Johnson — and save lives.
Dunderdale told the group that since they wanted hunters — and not conservation officers — to dispatch the animals, that the matter would have to be handled by Johnson’s department.
Johnson said she hasn’t been briefed on the proposal, but acknowledged she had concerns.
“ You can’t shoot from the side of the road. There are regulations against that. Right off the bat that would pose a problem,” she said.
“ These rules are in place for a very good reason — public safety. I don’t see that being changed.”
While she may not be ready to support such a proposal, Johnson said action is being taken.
She said officials have been plotting the location of moose-vehicle accidents, and will increase the number of licenses in problem areas.
She said other initiatives are under consideration, and will be announced soon.
“ We’re going to come up with some measures that I think they will be pleased with,” Johnson said.