A prominent former labour leader says Newfoundland and Labrador should get serious about moose-vehicle collisions by ordering a large cull of the wild animals.


Richard Cashin mocked government moves this week to curb moose-vehicle collisions as 'baby steps' that will accomplish nothing. ((CBC) )

Richard Cashin, who chairs an advisory group for the Save Our People Action Committee that has campaigned for moose fences, said Thursday a cull of 50,000 moose is needed to save lives on highways.

Cashin said the provincial government failed this week when it announced pilot projects that involved fencing and motion sensors.

"That's just fiddling," said Cashin, who co-founded and led for many years the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union.

"What the minister is doing is fiddling. He's a captive of the ideologues who believe in 'let nature take its course' and no cull."

Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson on Wednesday announced a $5-million plan that will see about 15 kilometres of fencing built as a test. The government also plans to better use technology to collect data about collisions, and will spend more clearing trees and brush along highways.

Newfoundland and Labrador's latest moose census pegs the population at 109,500, and the government believes the population has been declining since the mid-1990s. The species was introduced in 1904, with just four animals.

Cashin ridiculed the moves announced this week as just "baby steps" that will accomplish little, and said government bureaucrats are little different from groups that have protested the seal hunt.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has been widening the annual moose hunt to help bring the population under control. In April, the government added more than 5,000 new licences to its annual pool, bringing the quota this year to 33,645.

The Save Our People Action Committee collected thousands of names for a petition in 2009, and its members have been involved in a class action lawsuit that was certified just weeks ago in Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.