Newfoundland Moose

How to Avoid Moose Accidents in Newfoundland

Bull Moose (Alces alces)c. W. Montevecchi
Bull Moose (Alces alces)c. W. Montevecchi

To you my guests, coming to stay at our Newfoundland cottages, I would like to say a few words about our growing population of Newfoundland Moose. The surprising thing about Moose in Newfoundland is that they do not stay hidden when one is driving, as when I used to drive in Ontario. Newfoundland Moose here may jump out onto the road with their young to cross over to better feeding and water supplies. Our Moose are quite active anytime during the day. However, they are very active at twilight and early morning, which are some of the worst times for drivers to see anything well on the road. It seems Moose in Newfoundland are attracted to the salt along the roads.

I pray you will get a chance to see one of these magnificent creatures out in a field or drinking from our many ponds in the distance. I also pray that you will never experience Newfoundland Moose collisions.

Thus is my blog about our beloved Newfoundland Moose.

As the largest species of Deer in the world Moose are not native to Newfoundland. In 1878, some bright light bulb in government got the idea that what Newfoundland forests really needed was big game to add hunting to go along with fishing. I will not bore you with the details. Suffice to say that 2 Bull Moose and 2 cows were brought to Newfoundland from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia landing in Gander NL.

I knew little about Moose in Newfoundland when I came here to Bonavista. What I heard was to watch out for them along the roads. Moose accidents in Newfoundland are all too common. Well, having traveled in northern Ontario, never once laying eyes on a Moose, I drove at my normal speed without fear except for the raccoons lying dead all along the roads. So in my ignorant driver-self, it never occurred to me that I would actually lay my eyes on one of Newfoundland’s most majestic animals…the Newfoundland Moose.

However, one day before I was to go around a tight highway curve hidden by the rock formations my gut told me to slow down. Two Moose jumped out in front of me as I just entered the curve –one big Mama Moose and her calf. I hit the brakes and swear everything that was loose in the car came to visit me in the front seat. I realized these animals do exist and boy, as I began to see them and have them standing in the middle of the road at any old time of day or night, I started to get serious about slowing down.

I learned from the locals that Moose in Newfoundland usually come out especially in the early morn and at twilight since they are attracted to the road salt. As well, they needed to cut across the roads for better grazing and water. However, do not be fooled, they are out during all hours of the day and night as well.

Newfoundland Moose tend to be solitary animals and are vegans meaning they like to eat the vegetation near water, flat leaves and bark from the trees. Moose in Newfoundland are good swimmers and can swim a lake with no worries.

If you see a Newfoundland Moose that is swimming in the pond or lake let him/her be. People tend to think the animal needs help and try to help only scaring the poor wild animal making it impossible for him/her to swim to shore. So please, do not stop your car or stand by the shore. People are dangerous to Moose. So the rubberneckers leave the area and Mother Nature will let the Moose walk up on shore through the town’s streets and back into their habitat – the forest!

Breeding season for the Moose in Newfoundland begins in September and into the end of October. The bulls seek out the female cow and are quite aggressive and very curious of sounds. Baby Moose are born in late May to early June, after 245 days in the womb. When they are born they are at least 30 pounds in weight. Now here is where I am wondering about the skills of mothering with the Moose cow. Apparently the baby will stay with the mother all winter and then the Mother Moose will force the baby Moose, all of 400 pounds, away since the Mother Moose is ready to give birth again.

These beautiful Newfoundland Moose have large antlers. If you are like me you may wonder how they get through the woods with those huge antlers. The antlers are shed during winter and grow again in the spring. Having given birth before I was so glad to hear that the baby Moose are not born with their antlers on!

Thus is the story about our Newfoundland Moose.

To my guests and anyone reading my blog a few last pointers about Moose in Newfoundland:

  1. You will have a good chance of avoiding Moose accidents in Newfoundland if you drive at 80-90 km(if it states100 km is the speed) on Hwy 1 leaving St. John’s to come west to our Newfoundland Cottages. When you get to Clarenville you will be turning onto HWY 230. The speed limit is 80 km. It is a good speed but if early night, nighttime or early morn I drive at 70 km or less. The Moose may be there, not able to be seen due to the bushes and trees. Enjoy your drive and keep in mind to stay below the designated speed limit. Pay attention to what you are seeing and drive slower than one would normally drive.
  2. Avoid Newfoundland Moose collisions at all cost. Once you hit the brakes, trying to avoid hitting these powerful 500-1800 pound animals can be very difficult. Remember Newfoundland Moose stand very high with the bulk of their weight above the height of your car. If you hit one you will be hitting the legs of the Moose driving the rest of the 1000+ pounds through your windshield or the Moose will be forced to land on the top of your hood crushing any and all in the process.
  3. Anywhere you drive in Newfoundland please drive slower than stated and watch for Moose.
  4. If you happen to be out taking pictures or just looking around and a Newfoundland Moose suddenly appears looking like he/she may charge your car what should you do? One person got up on top of his car waving his arms as high as he could get them and started hollering. The Moose do not want to tackle with anything bigger than them so this Moose walked away.

Moose in Newfoundland have no natural predators except hunters. Their numbers since 1878 have grown. Newfoundland Moose population is estimated at about 300,000 on the island making the probability of you seeing one or hitting one a possibility. Protection comes in driving slower than the posted speed limit and keeping your eyes scanning the edges of the road. Better still, avoid driving late at night or very early in the morning and if you must drive, do so cautiously.

Glenn and I have never hit a Moose in Newfoundland. We follow the list above and try our best not to be on the road late at night. I trust my gut and you can too. If you feel suddenly that you need to slow down –then slow down. Ensure your lights are working especially high beam and on those foggy evenings go slow – I will drive 40-50 km or slower with my flashers going. It is amazing how many people fly by. I’m just not one of them.

Only Made in Newfoundland by ej

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