With the goal to reduce the number and severity of moose-vehicle collisions (MVCs) in the province, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador dedicated $5 million to a series of MVC mitigation initiatives, including the expansion of existing measures and the implementation of two new pilot projects. One pilot project involved the installation of two break-beam moose detection systems on the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) that trigger a set of warning lights when a moose enters the right of way. One of these systems was installed on a 1.5 kilometre stretch of road near the Salmonier Line (Route 90) interchange on October 13, 2011, and one system was installed on a two kilometre stretch of road just east of Grand Falls-Windsor on November 7, 2011. Another pilot project involved the installation of 17 highway kilometres of wildlife fencing and boulder fields along the TCH west of Gallants Road (Route 402) junction to east of Barachois Pond Provincial Park, and on Route 460 near Black Duck Siding, on July 15, 2012. The effectiveness of the pilot projects to mitigate MVCs in Newfoundland and Labrador, and in turn reduce the number and severity of MVCs, was assessed in this evaluation.
To determine the necessity, sustainability, and effectiveness of the two pilot projects, a number of methods were employed. Jurisdictional reviews and academic literature reviews were conducted to examine the success of these measures and to identify any potential issues related to the performance of the initiatives. An analysis of vehicle speeds inside and outside the pilot project areas pre-implementation and post-implementation was completed to determine if any changes in vehicle speeds were associated with the installation of the pilot projects. In addition, traffic volumes in each pilot area were assessed to determine the number of motorists who were impacted by the pilot initiatives. The number of days the moose detection systems were non- functional was compared to the number of days they were functional to assess the reliability of the systems. An analysis of the number of MVCs pre-implementation and post-implementation in all of the pilot project locations was conducted to determine if there was a reduction in MVCs in these locations. Finally, a financial analysis was performed to determine the cost-effectiveness of the MVC mitigation initiatives.
Based on the results of the analyses conducted utilizing the methodologies above, with regards to the moose detection systems, it is evident that this technology is ineffective in the climate and terrain of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is therefore recommended that this pilot project not be expanded to other areas of the province and that the removal of the existing systems be considered.
Mixed results were found in the present evaluation with regards to the moose fencing pilot initiative, demonstrating that wildlife fencing could potentially be effective in mitigating MVCs as it provides a barrier to moose, but a number of caveats should be considered, including the significant expense associated with wildlife fencing, when deliberating the sustainability of this initiative. In the interim, data collection and performance monitoring should be continued before concluding that this MVC mitigation measure is effective in reducing the number of MVCs in Newfoundland and Labrador.