If lessons can be learned before data can be analyzed, the number one concern people will have when it comes to the province's new five-year moose management plan is how moose-vehicle collisions (MVC) can be minimized.
"The first thing that comes to my mind is moose-vehicle collisions," said Randy Edmunds, MHA for the Torngat Mountains, who was in attendance at a public consultation last Tuesday in Clarenville.
"I know certain people who will not get on the road at night (because of the possibility of a (MVC))," added Kirk Holden, a recreational moose hunter from Random Island.
"There are not a lot of issues except for the obvious one (of moose vehicle collisions)."
Eighteen members of the public attended the session and offered suggestions on a variety of issues, both positive and negative, toward the provincial strategy.
Opinions were collected in two ways: people contributed by group discussion and on remote voting device to answer a list of questions the Department of Environment and Conservation brings to each consultation.
Before the adverse effects of a healthy moose population could be weighed, organizers asked the question, "What are the benefits to having moose in the province?"
Touting the merits of a naturally-occurring source of meat during a time where Canadians are more leery of commercially produced meats, Gilbert Penney, also a hunter from Random Island, spoke to the economic benefits as well.
"I don't know what the numbers are, but I suspect a number of guides are being employed, outfitters as well, and we're seeing some visitors from America (who come to hunt moose). Let's face it, we're a seasonal province; anything we can do to take advantage of it, we need to do," he said.
Bob Harnum, who's retired but still draws an income from serving as a guide remarked how he recently spent time on the southwest coast with a group of Americans in pursuit of moose.
"They seemed to enjoy it, and to me it's wonderful employment."
Indirect economic spinoffs such as all-terrain vehicle sales, weapons and ammunition and the costs of travelling to and from a hunting site also contribute to the provincial economy, some participants noted.
However, when the question of how moose pose a challenge in our province, the topic of MVC dominated the discussion.
Penney likened the experience of driving in the province - especially at night - to an extreme sport and also suggested the problem isn't just with the animals, but also with driver attitudes.
"When I get behind the wheel of my car, I start moose hunting. I drive 50,000 to 60,000 kilometers a year, and we have a lot of moose in this province. I think our biggest challenge in is educating people to slow down. You can fence and you can brush cut, but education is the best solution; we need to get people to slow down."
When the electronic polling data was compiled, it was found that among participants, moose as a food source was the most important thing to consider as a positive aspect, while MVC collisions were overwhelmingly considered the most important negative aspect.
Another issue that proved frustrating for hunters is the wait times in receiving a license. Many speculated that because of the wait times, some people have friends and family members apply as well in the hopes that with more rods in the fire, someone is bound to get a license.
"There are a lot of people in the system who are not hunters," said Kirk Holden, who hunts moose along the south coast.
Where this issue becomes compounded is when the province works with outdated statistics. Gilbert Penny of Random Island estimated 120 licenses will be handed out for the island while he figures there are only 50 moose on the island.
"There are a lot of people on Random Island who are going to be unhappy campers," he said.
Another point of concern for Hunters was raised by Joe Oliger, a hunter from Clarenville, who said the province could do more to market the sport of hunting to get more people involved including the next generation of hunters and hunters who like to use other means to hunt such as muzzle loaders, bows and even cross bows.
"My frustration is it can be difficult to participate in big game hunting in this province because of the number of applications and the current draw system, it can take years to get a moose license in a popular moose management area. I'm talking about creating an environment where people can get involved in hunting, not necessarily harvesting more animals."
He said, and was agreed with by the other hunters, the average hunter has to wait too long to get a license. What he would like to see is a system similar to what is being used in other parts of the country; a draw for various forms of hunting such as bow, cross bow, muzzle loaders and for multiple rifle seasons, so more people will be given the opportunity to hunt.
All the suggestions put forth by different groups were compiled and will be submitted to the department to help with the five-year moose plan.
To find out how much, if any, of what was said at the event would be used by the department, Penney suggested the department release a report containing all of the recommendations made at each consultation.
"At least we will know what's happening in all of the province and at least you will know what people are thinking."
Before the meeting could end, the implications of MVC were touched on once again.
According to provincial statistics, as moose populations have declined, there has been an increase in the number of MVC.
"The simple equation of more moose equals more collisions simply isn't true," said Casidhe Dyke, an ecologist with the province's Wildlife Division, who hosted the consultation.
Looking at the chart provided to all participants, MHA Edmunds, who also serves as the Opposition Critic for Environment and Conservation, noted that if the trend continues the consequences will be dire.
"If this continues (for another decade)... you've got 600 people killed (over that decade)."
How that may affect other aspects of the province is unknown.
"If every time you turned on the radio you heard about someone getting killed, what does that do to the province?" surmised Penney.
The public consultations will continue until Nov. 1. Written submissions can be submitted and will be accepted until Nov. 8. More information can be obtained at www.gov.nl.ca/env/wildlife.