Not an­swer

Safety is­sues with hunt­ing along road­ways, says Char­lene John­son

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS TRANSCONTINENTAL ME­DIA

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.

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