Moose-vehicle collsions on the rise
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.