N.L. moose project aims to curb collisions
Newfoundland and Labrador will build a fence on a stretch of its highway system as part of a $5-million pilot project to curb moose-vehicle collisions that have already triggered a class action lawsuit.
Fifteen kilometres of wildlife fencing will be built this fall according to the plan, which will also use wildlife sensors and a new system of collecting data on collisions that have often harmed or killed drivers and passengers.
The location of the fence has not yet been determined.
The plan also includes spending $1 million on extra brush clearing along roadsides.
The announcement comes just three months before voters head to the polls, and as opposition politicians have been bringing renewed heat on the government.
Hedderson, however, said officials had been working on the plan for months.
"This is not about fall election campaigns," he told reporters during a news conference.
"This is about an issue that's been on my plate as minister for a year and a half," he said. "When it comes to highway safety ... there is no better time to do it than right now."
The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in June certified a class action lawsuit brought forward by St. John's lawyer Ches Crosbie.
Eugene Nippard, a central Newfoundland man who has led a campaign against moose collisions, told CBC News that Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson had called him on Tuesday and told him to expect good news.
"He said that they've tried their best to act on the proposals that we have put forward," said Nippard, who organized a 2009 petition that attracted wide public support.
Until now, the government has resisted tactics such as widespread fencing, on grounds that it would be exorbitantly expensive.
"Ever since this committee started two years ago, we've been hoping to get something on the moose fencing because we know that it works in other provinces," Nippard told CBC News.
"I've travelled to other provinces and seen how it works and the results are there."
Nippard said while fencing is a primary goal, his group would also be happy to see continued highway brush-cutting and the removal of moose from problem areas.
Government statistics released several years ago estimated about 700 moose-vehicle collisions each year.