Two new moose reduction zones will be designated along the Trans-Canada Highway as a test project to try and reduce the number of moose-vehicle collisions.
Each year there are an average of 700 accidents involving moose.
The moose reduction zones are part of a five-year strategic plan for moose management in Newfoundland, measures added to those of the existing plan.
“The plan will be implemented and the results evaluated over the course of the next five years with the goal to continuously improve moose management in the province,” said Environment and Conservation Minister Dan Crummell.
Environment and Conservation and the Department of Transportation has three goals for the plan:
• The long-term sustainability and health of moose populations and habitat across the province.
• Ensuring reasonable access and benefit to the moose resource.
• To lessen human-moose accidents.
One of the moose reduction zones is in the central region between Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor and the other is in the Avalon region between St. John’s and Clarenville.
There will be 200 either-sex moose licences added in the central moose reduction zone and 300 in the Avalon zone.
“The moose reduction zones will provide greater opportunity for removal of near-road moose through hunting,” said Crummell. “The number of moose removed through hunting, the density of moose in near-road zones, the density of moose in adjacent moose managing areas, moose movement patterns, as well as vehicle-moose collisions rates, traffic volumes and speeds will all be monitored over three years to determine the effectiveness of the program.”
Several hunting licence fees were changed on April 1. Moose, caribou, black bear, small game and coyote hunting licenses, and trapper’s licenses have been increased by $5 to $20. Out-of-province hunters will pay $150 to $200 more for a moose and caribou license.
The moose population is around 112,000 animals. Public consultations have shown there is a strong desire in the province to maintain at population size to maximize hunting opportunities. But the government also wants to lessen the number of collisions between moose and vehicles.
“No doubt, the government is listening and putting a plan in place. …” said Lucy Stoyles, chair of the Mount Pearl city council’s regional services and environment committee.
“I’m disappointed with it, especially when you look at what was done out in Nova Scotia and Alberta (with fences). Our government hasn’t even asked the federal government to fence our two national parks. In Terra Nova park alone there was 14 or 16 accidents last year.”
The province will be looking more into the feasibility of fencing. But fencing aside, there have also been efforts around moose detection systems and brush cutting to remove vegetation that attracts the moose to roadsides.
“The moose management plan has a research component that is designed to specifically address if decrease in moose numbers and density can decrease rates of moose-vehicle collisions,” said Crummell.
The plan will be funded with roughly $1.8 million in Budget 2015.
“There’s no one quick solution to the mitigation of moose-vehicle actions,” said Transportation Minister David Brazil.
“It has to be a collaborative approach and a uniform approach over many aspects. We want to build on the data collected and we want to create innovative ways to do it.”
Special to Telegram