CORNER BROOK The Save Our People Action Committee (SOPAC) has said they had enough when it comes to problems with the moose detection system.
“We want the system taken down. It’s been a failure ever since it was put there,” said Eugene Nippard, co-chair of the committee. “We want fencing erected instead.”
Nippard said since the detection systems, located at Grand Falls-Windsor and Salmonier Line, were installed in 2011 as a pilot project they have been down more than they have worked. He said his group is still trying to collect data on the systems but the CBC is reporting that documents it obtained under provincial access to information legislation show that the government has struggled with keeping the equipment operational. A report Thursday said the equipment at the Grand Falls-Windsor site has either been knocked out entirely or partially affected for 306 of the 648 days it’s been running. The site on Salmonier Line has had some better luck with only 106 days with the system down.
Nippard lives on Grenfell Heights in Grand Falls-Windsor and has gone out to test the system, which is located adjacent to that area.
“People might think I’m cracked. I’ll go in towards the tree line, I’ll come back out and I’ll check,” he said. “That’s supposed to pick me up, but 90 per cent of the time it doesn’t.”
Nippard said the $1.5-million system from Safeguards of Canada Inc. is not the right one for the job. And, he said, contractors sent out to repair the system have told him they don’t think it’s ever going work for wildlife.
Nippard also said the system can be triggered in a number of ways, from other wildlife to snow and fog.
“Plus if a moose comes on the highway after three minutes the lights go out and the moose is still there,” he said. “So it’s a false sense of security.”
Nippard said his committee has met with Transportation and Works Minister Paul Davis on the issue and is currently trying to get another meeting with him.
He said the message his group has for Davis is that it wants fencing all across the island.
The department said Davis wasn’t available for an interview when contacted Thursday. Instead, a representative provided The Western Star with an emailed statement on his behalf.
The statement confirms the problems with the detection system and says that it was disabled in January so Safeguards could fully investigate the issues, determine the causes of the malfunctions and corrected them. That work was covered by warranty.
“Once Safeguards completed their comprehensive analysis of the system and completed several repairs, the systems resumed full operation and out-of-order signs were removed in June and have been in operation since this time,” said the statement.
The statement also said the province is committed to completing the pilot term of 24 months on the sensor system and the fencing.