Moose-ve­hi­cle coll­sions on the rise

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH - BY JEREMY P. SMITH

The Save Our Peo­ple Ac­tion Com­mit­tee is sur­prised by the in­crease in the num­ber of moose-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents in the prov­ince.

Eu­gene Nip­pard, founder and co-chair of the com­mit­tee, de­scribed the num­bers as “ab­so­lutely crazy.”

The group is sup­port­ing a class ac­tion law­suit against the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment re­lated to the most se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents. Ac­cord­ing to Nip­pard, the risk of hit­ting a moose has risen over 50 per cent since 2005.

“ We ap­proached the RCMP and they gave us some sta­tis­tics,” he said. “ We were try­ing to get some sta­tis­tics from the gov­ern­ment, and we never had any luck with that.”

Formed in July 2009 to try to stop moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions in the prov­ince, the com­mit­tee says there are an es­ti­mated 800 ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing moose on the high­way an­nu­ally.

The group said fig­ures ob­tained from the RCMP and the Royal New­found­land Con­stab­u­lary show there were 474 moose ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents in 2008, but that in­creased to 726 in 2009 and 741 in 2010, the lobby group said.

From 2000-08, the av­er­age num­ber of ac­ci­dents was 455 and the av­er­age num­ber from 2009-10 was 734.

“ The only thing they got to con­trol the moose is the moose hunt in the fall,” said Nip­pard. “ We’re hav­ing more moose calves be­ing born than we do kill with the hunt.”

The next step for the com­mit­tee is to put a map on its web­site with all the moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions that the com­mit­tee knows about or has been re­ported.

Ac­cord­ing to Nip­pard, for ev­ery moose-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent, $30,000 of the prov­ince’s money is be­ing used, and ev­ery year that amounts to $3.5 mil­lion.

Nip­pard said fenc­ing the com­mit­tee keeps ask­ing for would costs gov­ern­ment $50,000 per kilo­me­tre.

– Eu­gene Nip­pard

He also said there are 400 dead moose be­ing brought to garbage dumps ev­ery year from ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing ve­hi­cles in New­found­land.

“ You can’t put a price on peo­ples lives,” said Nip­pard. “My god, it’s a state of emer­gency.”

Wildlife sci­en­tist Tony Cle­venger has also filed an af­fi­davit in the case. Cle­venger has been study­ing the ef­fect of wildlife over­passes, un­der­passes and fenc­ing in the Banff area for years said meth­ods cho­sen by road safety authorities in New­found­land, such as sig­nage and clear­ing brush from high­ways, have lit­tle sci­en­tific va­lid­ity.

He said the is­land has more than 10 per cent of the to­tal num­ber of moose in North Amer­ica, with less than two per cent of suit­able habi­tat.

The law­suit most be cer­ti­fied by the court, if it is to pro­ceed.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials re­fused com­ment on the lobby group’s num­bers be­cause the mat­ter is be­fore the courts.

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