Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Moose, a dangerous nuisance

I'm filling in for Bill Rowe as host of VOCM's afternoon radio call-in show, Backtalk, for the month of July, followed by a week standing in for Randy Simms as host of Open Line. Each day I'll post the show's monologue, which I prepare in advance.


Good afternoon Newfoundland and Labrador and all the ships at sea.

Let’s begin today with moose, because the moose/vehicle problem seems to be getting out of hand.

On Saturday night (July 24th) a family of four — a mother and father, a 12-year-old son, and a 22-year old daughter — were driving west toward Grand Falls-Windsor after a family outing at Botwood Park.

Sounds like a wonderful day.

Only the evening was a nightmare.

The family’s car reached the weigh scales between Bishop’s Falls and Grand Falls-

Windsor when a bull moose ran into the highway.

From out of nowhere, which is often how it happens.

The father, who was driving, swerved. The car struck loose gravel on the side of the road and he lost control.

The car flipped three times.

The car was demolished, and the mother and son sustained head injuries.

That was one accident.

In the same area — around the weigh scales between Bishop’s Falls and Grand Falls-Windsor — there was another accident in recent days.

A retired Anglican minister driving from Glenwood passed one moose on the road, went under the chin of another moose, and hit a third moose, demolishing his vehicle.

So that’s two accidents around the weigh scales between Bishop’s Falls and Grand Falls-Windsor.

At the same time, it only last Tuesday morning that the RCMP issued an advisory of a moose sighting near the weigh scales between Bishop’s Falls and Grand Falls-Windsor.

Other than the advisory about a moose sighting, nothing was done.

Is an advisory enough?

Apparently not if there are two moose-vehicle collisions in the same area within days of each other.

Moose that hang around a certain area are called nuisance moose.

The Save Our People Action Committee says there should be a program in place to remove so-called nuisance moose.

If the nuisance moose had been removed maybe the family of four might not have hit the moose Saturday evening.

The committee says more must be done to keep nuisance moose off the highways.

Tranquilize them. Shoot them. Moose fencing. Whatever it takes.

The Danny Williams administration is against such a move, which could cost a fair bit of money.

But then Eugene Nippard, head of the Save Our People Action Committee, asks how you can put a price on people’s lives.

What do think?

We supposedly have between 700 and 800 moose/vehicle collisions a year.

This story just won’t go away.

It won’t leave the headlines, not when you’re averaging about two moose-vehicle collisions a day.

One of these days there’s going to be a big accent.

Maybe a family of four won’t get off so lucky, maybe they’ll be killed.

I say that with a question attached: is that what it’s going to take to get government to move on the moose issue?

Will moose will be an election issue in 2011?


Still with wildlife, I went for another walk with the dog and my boys last evening around Signal Hill.

I know I probably mention whales too much, but I can’t help myself.

Last evening, I spotted a whale between The Narrows — and I mean directly between The Narrows.

Newfoundland and Labrador tourism couldn't plan a better photo shot.

He must have hung out there for 15 minutes, which was something to see.

Now, when I’m out like that I can’t help but think of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.

It must be the air off the Grand Banks.

Gus Etchegary was on the program last week talking about how he had information that foreign interests were buying into a certain Newfoundland fish company.

I’m not going to mention the company’s name, but I saw the documentation.

Right now our fishery is supposedly being restructured under an MOU process.

Do you think that MOU process is looking into the question of whether foreign interests should be able to buy into the NL fishery?

If that happens, we don’t be masters of our own fishing destiny.

Is the MOU process looking into who exactly holds the rights to fish quotes off our shores?

Is the MOU process investigating the relationship between plant owners and skippers.

In a lot of cases the plant owners own the boats.

People are saying they don’t have a say in the MOU process.

Well, now’s your chance.

We can’t let the fishery fall off the radar.


I’m a bit all over the map today.

Let’s talk about energy drinks for a moment — and a national story that broke Tuesday (July 26th).

Energy drinks are caffeinated drinks like Red Bull and Monster and RockStar that supposedly give you instant energy.

Canada’s leading medical journal — the Canadian Medical Association Journal — published an editorial to say that caffeinated energy drinks are a potential danger to children and need stronger scrutiny from government health officials.

The editorial argues that the growing availability of highly-caffeinated energy drinks poses a serious threat to the health of young people who are vulnerable to the effects of caffeine.

How much caffeine is in these drinks?

A 250-millilitre bottle of Coca-Cola contains 26 milligrams of caffeine

A 75-millilitre bottle of Rockstar “energy shot” contains 200 milligrams of caffeine.

I mention this because I've heard lots of stories about young people taking caffeinated drinks before sports, competitive sports, to give them an advantage.

My oldest son has asked me about caffeinated drinks.

He’s asked me was it was alright for him to take one before a game.

My answer has been absolutely not, I see taking the drinks as a form of cheating, never mind the fact that caffeine may be bad for young people.

That wasn’t such much a consideration — before now.

What do you think, how widespread is the consumption of energy drinks by young people?

How often are young people consuming energy drinks before sports?

I know that young people in their early 20s are drinking energy drinks with alcohol, but that’s another story.


Let’s head over to Buckmaster’s Circle in St. John’s.

There was a fire in a Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Unit in Buckmaster’s Cirle earlier this month.

The four people in the home were forced to drop out of the third-floor window 30 feet to a set of concrete steps.

Neighbours had put out a mattress to break their fall, but all four still suffered broken bones.

It was revealed after that fire that Housing isn’t required to put up fire escapes or safety ladders on the homes.

But I’ve gotten e-mails from people asking what they should do.

Allan writes:

“Ryan, I have a two-storey home and have purchased a special window ladder; they

cost about $30 at Wal-Mart. They roll up and have big hooks on the one end that go over the window ledge and will take you right to the ground.”

Here’s another e-mail from Devon:

“Hi, Ryan, we have a Kidde Emergency Escape Ladder we got at Canadian Tire. It is better than a rope and safer."

Again, thanks for the e-mail.

But if you live in subsidized housing you probably can’t afford an escape ladder.

I suppose you could always put a length of rope under your bed, but that’s probably not going to work for a senior or a young child.

Let me ask you this: it may not be the law that fire escapes or escape ladders be put in three-story Newfoundland and Labrador housing units, but should it be?


I received another interesting e-mail on Monday regarding Marine Atlantic.

The e-mail reads:

“I'm not one to talk much on Open Line shows, but thought you might appreciate this one

My cousin traveled from Toronto to Newfoundland in mid June. They had planned a three-four day leisurely drive down from Toronto to North Sydney. Instead, they made much better time than planned and arrived in North Sydney some 15 hours ahead of their reservation sailing.

The reservation agent directed them to their spot in line, and there they were told that the previous vessel had not yet sailed, and where there was space on board, they could get on the earlier vessel, rather than wait 15 hours.

Sounds good.

The catch?

There will be a $25 charge for changing their reservation!"

Thanks for the e-mail John.

Now that's insane.

I know that local truckers were considering a demonstration today in Port aux Basques over the commercial reservation system.

But they cancelled it — local truckers can’t exactly demonstrate against the reservation system, the system that they say is slowing putting them out of business.

If Marine Atlantic bans them from the ferries that would definitely kill their business.

Do you think Marine Atlantic should be able to ban local truckers from their ferries for demonstrating?

Isn’t this a free and democratic society?

Local truckers have been consistent in their message that the commercial reservation system is putting them out of business.

How do they get that point across when Marine Atlantic holds all the cards?


Oh, one last thing, another e-mailer yesterday asked me to try and book a commercial reservation for Marine Atlantic on air.

It wouldn’t work, the powers that be at Marine Atlantic would hear me on air and know what I was doing.

So sorry, although I’m all over ideas that are outside the box.


Let’s see, a few other notes I want to mention.

The media have been pushing to see the oil spill response plan for the Orphan Basin, where Chevron is drilling the deepest well in Canadian history.

Turns out Chevron only projected how an oil spill originating on the surface would spread.

There was no such projection for a deep-sea blowout such as the one that caused the 85-day Gulf of Mexico leak.

They didn’t have to do one.

So if there’s a deep-sea blowout on the Orphan Basin we don’t know where that oil would end up.

Do you think that’s good enough?

Our environment is already sensitive enough — our commercial fish stocks are hanging on by their fingertips.

Do you think Danny Williams should have implemented a moratorium on deep-sea exploration until after the review he ordered?

No wonder COSEWIC didn’t get its wish that cod be declared an endangered species.

Oil companies, for one, would have to study how an offshore spill would impact fish stocks.


A few other odds and ends.

Police recovered the Republic of Doyle camper trailer that was stolen from the area of the St. John’s International Airport.

The trailer was recovered from a dirt road in the area of Brigus Junction with the help of the media, the public and Crime Stoppers.

There was no mention of private investigator Jake Doyle.

What’s going on Jake, slowin’ down?


The province unveiled a brand new water bomber at a hanger in St. John’s Monday.

The water bomber is a Bombadier 415 aircraft, which is fairly similar to the old water bombers.

I see that one of the pilots said his favourite feature of the new water bomber is an air conditioner, which comes in handy when flying over the intense heat of a forest fire.

You don’t say.

The Backtalk lines are open.

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