The case for the complainants at a moose class-action lawsuit in St. John's took a hit Wednesday, as the lawyer representing the Newfoundland and Labrador government put an expert witness on the hotseat.

Tony Clevenger, a wildlife research scientist who specializes in how to prevent animal-vehicle collisions, was commissioned to write a report for the complainants in the case.

Diagram from Traffic Injury Research Foundation

A report from The Traffic Injury Research Foundation says there was more than a six per cent increase in collisions on the island between 1995 and 2008. (CBC)

He's critical of the way that some civil servants in the province assembled data regarding moose vehicle-collisions.

Peter Ralph, the lawyer representing the province, was critical of Clevenger and his analysis. 

Clevenger said a Swedish study points to a direct correlation between moose density and collisions — but In Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday — Ralph said it doesn't say that.  

In citing a study prepared for the US congress, Clevenger said it shows that cutting brush does not work to prevent collisions.    

But again, Ralph pointed out the study does not state that at all — but rather that cutting brush could become a standard approach to help prevent collisions. 

Clevenger also said there has been a steady increase in the moose population on the island since 1958. 

Ralph pointed out that numbers before the court demonstrate that the moose population has actually been decreasing since 1990.

Tony Clevenger

Tony Clevenger is a wildlife ecologist who was commissioned to write a report for the complainants in the moose class-action lawsuit. (CBC)

A report from The Traffic Injury Research Foundation, which Clevenger has been using, states there was a more than six per cent increase in collisions in Newfoundland between 1995 and 2008.

However, the data comes from 2003 and 2006.

Ralph called it "curious" and asked Clevenger if he tried to figure out the source of the data. 

Clevenger said, "no."

There are 135 plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit, which claims the provincial government's failure to control the moose population is to blame for the more than 700 moose-vehicle collisions reported annually. Moose are not native to Newfoundland.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.