Moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions an on­go­ing con­cern in New Brunswick



This is the se­cond part of a three-part se­ries look­ing at speed­ing and dis­tracted driv­ing on At­lantic Canada’s high­ways. See last week’s edi­tion for the first part or visit our web­site to see the en­tire se­ries. Part 3 will run in next week’s pa­per.

Amoose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sion (MVC) can hap­pen in the blink of an eye, some­thing Mel­rose, N.B., res­i­dent Shaun Mur­phy knows first-hand. A bus driver in the Sackville, N.B. area, Mur­phy was headed to work just over a year ago, along a route he had trav­elled many times. “I was on my way to work at about 6:30 in the morn­ing. It was rain­ing, dark, and I was just past the (Port El­gin) traf­fic cir­cle to­wards Sackville. At about 100 kilo­me­tres an hour, I saw a moose step­ping onto the high­way out of the ditch, so I switched lanes to give him lots of room. I looked up and there was an­other moose stand­ing in the lane I switched to. I hit him right on. I couldn’t have hit him more cen­tre.” The moose Mur­phy hit eas­ily weighed be­tween 800 and 1,000 pounds. Mirac­u­lously, although the moose was killed and his ve­hi­cle was to­talled and filled with glass, he walked away with­out a scratch. More than 400 New Brunswick­ers are in­volved in an MVC ev­ery year, ac­cord­ing to the pro­vin­cial De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture (DTI), with most crashes oc­cur­ring be­tween dusk and dawn when moose are hard­est to see. Col­li­sions also more likely to oc­cur be­tween May and Oc­to­ber, when the an­i­mals leave the for­est to es­cape the flies and heat and to feed on veg­e­ta­tion in ditches. The only other prov­ince in At­lantic Canada where more MVCs oc­cur an­nu­ally is New­found­land and Labrador. Prince Ed­ward Is­land has no moose pop­u­la­tion, and the chance of an MVC in main­land Nova Sco­tia is com­par­a­tively low, as the prov­ince’s moose pop­u­la­tion stands at about 1,000, com­pared to New Brunswick’s more than 29,000 an­i­mals, ac­cord­ing to Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada data.


In New Brunswick, MVCs have been an es­pe­cially com­mon oc­cur­rence along the 20-kilome­ter stretch of high­way be­tween Port El­gin and the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge, an area the prov­ince’s DTI has deemed high-risk. Be­tween 2006 and 2010, there were 37 MVCs along that stretch of high­way. By mid-2012, three peo­ple – in­clud­ing a Cape Tor­men­tine cou­ple and a man from Char­lot­te­town, P.E.I. – had been killed and sev­eral oth­ers had sus­tained mi­nor in­juries in col­li­sions with moose, re­sult­ing in a pub­lic meet­ing where then-MLA for Tantra­mar Michael Olscamp out­lined pos­si­ble op­tions: erect­ing fenc­ing, in­stalling light­ing in high moose-traf­fic ar­eas and culling ex­cess an­i­mals. In an Au­gust 2012 in­ter­view with the Sackville Tri­bune-Post, Olscamp said he had met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­ergy to sug­gest a moose cull. “They gave me a lot of bi­o­log­i­cal rea­sons why we can’t do that. I asked about ex­tend­ing the (moose hunt­ing) sea­son; they can’t do that ei­ther.” And, in a 2014 in­ter­view with the Char­lot­te­town Guardian, Olscamp said fenc­ing was also not an op­tion as there are too many breaches and drive­ways along the stretch of high­way - some­thing Jeremy Trevors, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer with New Brunswick’s DTI, re­cently con­firmed. “Wildlife fenc­ing is one way to re­duce the risk of col­li­sion; how­ever, it is not al­ways pos­si­ble,” he ex­plained. “It is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to in­stall wildlife fenc­ing on non-con­trolled ac­cess high­ways due to the num­ber of res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial ac­cesses. Each one of these ac­cesses would pro­vide an en­try point for wildlife.” Trevors added DTI works in con­sul­ta­tion with the prov­ince’s De­part­ment of En­ergy and Re­source De­vel­op­ment in de­ter­min­ing where to in­stall moose fenc­ing based on wildlife mit­i­ga­tion cri­te­ria, in­clud­ing col­li­sion statis­tics. The de­part­ment also takes other mea­sures to re­duce the risk of wildlife col­li­sions, such as reg­u­lar brush cut­ting to en­hance vis­i­bil­ity on road­ways and in­stalling en­hanced sig­nage with warn­ing lights cau­tion­ing mo­torists to slow down. Mur­phy, like Trevors, says speed can in­crease a per­son’s chances of be­ing in­volved in an MVC. “I was one of them,” he said. “It was the prime time for moose, and I was trav­el­ling too fast.” He also agrees that moose fenc­ing in the Port El­gin area is not an op­tion. “Other than in­creas­ing the quota in moose sea­son, I’ve got noth­ing. Putting street lights from here to Au­lac and Port El­gin to Cape Tor­men­tine re­ally isn’t fea­si­ble ei­ther but it cer­tainly wouldn’t hurt.”


Travis Smart and David Jury of Tantra­mar Elec­tric in­stall flash­ing lights on the moose cross­ing sign in the Mel­rose area in Au­gust 2012. At the time, in­creased ef­forts were un­der­way to re­duce the num­ber of moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions in the area af­ter three peo­ple – in­clud­ing a Cape Tor­men­tine cou­ple and a man from Char­lot­te­town, P.E.I. – were killed.

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