Moose cull makes sense for road safety

The Southern Gazette - - EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT - Edi­tor; Steven Fletcher, Man­i­toba MP

One of Canada’s great­est icons has un­for­tu­nately be­come a se­ri­ous threat to pub­lic safety.

Last year, there were ap­prox­i­mately 800 ve­hi­cle col­li­sions with moose in New­found­land alone. That works out to more than two au­to­mo­bile-moose col­li­sions per day.

An au­to­mo­bile col­li­sion with a moose of­ten leaves the oc­cu­pants of the ve­hi­cle dead. If the oc­cu­pants do sur­vive, their in­juries are of­ten se­vere.

The se­verely in­jured oc­cu­pant will have two wishes – one, the ac­ci­dent never hap­pened, and two, they did not sur­vive.

The na­ture of an au­to­mo­bile­moose col­li­sion leads to the most cat­a­strophic of in­juries such as brain and spinal cord in­juries.

Moose weigh up to 2,000 pounds and most of their weight is sup­ported on very long legs. This re­sults in the mass of the an­i­mal fly­ing through the wind­shield of a typ­i­cal ve­hi­cle and dev­as­tat­ing its oc­cu­pants.

It is dif­fi­cult for an in­di­vid­ual to sur­vive a col­li­sion with a moose, and if they do, in­juries are so ter­ri­ble their lives can be de­stroyed. With­out the fi­nan­cial re­sources to pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate home­care or equip­ment, this can leave a sur­vivor of a moose col­li­sion in ter­ri­ble cir­cum­stances.

Imag­ine driv­ing along a high­way where brick walls would ran­domly ap­pear in front of you. There is no time to re­act and a col­li­sion is in­evitable.

In fact, it is bet­ter to run into a brick wall with your car than into a moose. At least with the brick wall, the front of your car ab­sorbs the shock.

In my au­to­mo­bile-moose col­li­sion (in 1996), the 2,000-pound moose went through the wind­shield, flew over me, ripped back the top half of the car (like a sar­dine con­tainer), landed in the back seat, flew back over me and out the front win­dow when the ve­hi­cle hit the ditch, and was found in front of my ve­hi­cle.

The hood of the car was barely scratched. I was left a quad­ri­plegic, par­a­lyzed from the neck down.

My col­league, New­found­land and Labrador Se­na­tor Fabian Man­ning, was in an au­to­mo­bile-moose col­li­sion a few years ago. Re­mark­ably, he sur­vived with mi­nor in­juries but, as he has told me, he could have just as likely been killed or par­a­lyzed like my­self.

Un­like the rest of Canada, moose are not in­dige­nous to the is­land of New­found­land. The govern­ment of New­found­land in­tro­duced four moose over 100 years ago.

The moose are an in­va­sive species to the is­land and their pop­u­la­tion has boomed due to the fact there are no nat­u­ral preda­tors. There­fore, the ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion is to cull (in other words kill) all the moose on the is­land.

Re­mov­ing all the moose from the is­land will be a huge pub­lic safety ben­e­fit, it is the en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ac­tion to take and it makes eco­nomic sense.

Some peo­ple will com­plain about the rights of the moose.

Since the choice has be­come the well be­ing and safety of hu­mans or that of the in­va­sive moose, the choice should be ob­vi­ous.

Other so­lu­tions have been pro­posed, such as fences along high­ways, in­creased hunt­ing with­out to­tal elim­i­na­tion of moose and other meth­ods. The only fool­proof method to elim­i­nate moose col­li­sions is to elim­i­nate the moose!

The is­land of New­found­land is the only part of North Amer­ica in the po­si­tion to do so with the added ben­e­fit of bring­ing the is­land into more of its orig­i­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal state.

You can­not sue a moose and most au­to­mo­bile in­sur­ance, re­gard­less of where you re­side in the coun­try, does not pro­vide ad­e­quate re­sources to com­pen­sate for the types of cat­a­strophic in­juries that re­sult from au­to­mo­bile-moose col­li­sions.

Not sur­pris­ingly, there is a case be­fore the court in New­found­land where some vic­tims of au­to­mo­bile­moose col­li­sions are su­ing the prov­ince for com­pen­sa­tion, since au­to­mo­bile or pri­vate in­sur­ance does not pro­tect driv­ers from au­to­mo­bile­moose col­li­sions.

With­out get­ting into de­tails about any spe­cific case, long liti­gious fights with in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, govern­ment and other stake­hold­ers are very com­mon with au­to­mo­bile-moose col­li­sions. The fi­nan­cial bur­den on the vic­tims of au­to­mo­bile-moose col­li­sions is pro­found and can cost tens of mil­lions of dollars over a life­time.

Of course, for the vic­tim and the fam­i­lies, no price can be put on the pain, suf­fer­ing and the re­duc­tion in the vic­tim’s qual­ity of life or their abil­ity to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety.

New­found­land is in an unique sit­u­a­tion and fu­ture tragedies from moose col­li­sions can be com­pletely avoided if the ap­pro­pri­ate steps are taken.

The eco­nomic im­pact due to per­sonal in­jury, prop­erty dam­age, liti­gious law­suits, loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity, will far out­weigh any pos­si­ble eco­nomic ben­e­fit that may ex­ist to tourism as­so­ci­ated with the moose hunt.

It will take time to rid New­found­land of over 100,000 moose. It would seem to be an eco­nomic boom to those in­volved in the moose hunt to help in the cull of the moose and in the years it takes to rid New­found­land of the moose pests.

New­found­land will con­tinue to be one of the most ma­jes­tic places on planet Earth and a lot safer with­out moose.

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