We need more moose data

The Packet (Clarenville) - - EDITORIAL -

Given the amount of em­pha­sis that those who wish to pre­vent high­way fa­tal­i­ties put on moose, (and given that other causes such as speed­ing, dis­tracted driv­ing, etc. cause 95 per cent of high­way fa­tal­i­ties) one gets the feel­ing that there is a per­sonal vendetta against those an­i­mals.

We all want to make the high­ways as safe as pos­si­ble, and ev­ery ac­ci­dent is heart­break­ing, but we do not wish to live in a prov­ince de­void of big game an­i­mals.

There are many things we should do to mit­i­gate the pos­si­bil­ity of a moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sion and such has been re­gur­gi­tated over and over on the Open Line shows, but the feel­ing we get is that that some peo­ple would be quite con­tent to elim­i­nate all moose on the is­land.

I wish you would try and as­cer­tain from the proper of­fi­cials the lat­est es­ti­mate of moose on the is­land, rather than the num­bers we see thrown around with not a shred of ev­i­dence.

The anec­do­tal ev­i­dence is that the pop­u­la­tion is way down from a few years ago. As a mat­ter of fact, I just had a call from a fel­low who heard me on Open Line yes­ter­day, telling me that he has trav­elled from Grand Falls to Thor­burn Lake area ev­ery week for the past 17 years — twice a week — and he saw more moose one morn­ing 17 years ago than he sees all sum­mer now.

Like he said, no one wants to hear of an ac­ci­dent, and for sure we have had enough heart­break­ing tragedies this sum­mer al­ready, but let’s gets the facts be­fore we start the con­ser­va­tion.

Here are a few facts to con­sider in the equa­tion:

(1) Al­most no po­lice en­force­ment on the high­ways. Any­one who drives the TCH reg­u­larly will agree with that. Ev­ery time I drive to St. John’s I am amazed at the speeds on the TCH! That is not to say all moose ac­ci­dents in­volve speed­ing.

(2) Num­ber of mo­tor ve­hi­cles on the high­ways tripled (or more ) in the past few years, in­creas­ing the chance of a moose ve­hi­cle col­li­sion.

(3) As moose be­come scarcer, and sight­ings on the high­ways be­come more rare, there is the nor­mal ten­dency to have a lesser level of con­scious­ness of the dan­ger and per­haps a less fo­cused view of the road in terms of scan­ning for moose.

(4) Many main high­ways are now so over­grown along the shoul­ders that a moose can have his rear end in the alder bed and his front legs on the pave­ment.

(5) N.L. Wildlife do not have any idea of the num­bers of moose in the prov­ince. Cer­tainly the deep snow last win­ter on the west coast ( Baie Verte area ) took a toll on the moose. I would like to see a re­al­is­tic count so we could start the dis­cus­sion from there.

David Boyd Twill­ingate

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