Sunday, April 20, 2014
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More than 550 moose-automobile crashes have been reported annually in Maine over the last decade, with at least 22 deaths during that time period.
The Associated Press/Robert Bukaty
SATURDAY'S MOOSE LOTTERY
• Maine's annual moose lottery will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday at Greenville High School.
• More than 52,000 people applied for permits for the hunt held from late September until late November in various parts of the state. Only 4,110 permits will be allotted.
• For more information, go to www.mefishwildlife.com.
They move in the spring, after the birthing season; they jump into roadways to escape insects in the woods in the summer; and they move during the mating season in the fall.
Given the number of traffic accidents caused by moose each year across Maine, state engineers have sought new ways to alert motorists to the large mammals, which can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds.
THE NEWEST TECHNOLOGY
This month, production will begin at UMaine on the prototype for a new street light to help motorists see moose on dark roads, Talbot said.
Researchers in UMaine's electrical engineering department plan to develop lights that will illuminate common moose-crash locations on rural roads where there are no street lights.
A proposal to line a 1.5-mile stretch of Route 161 in Madawaska Lake Township with the new lights is projected to cost $120,000 to $140,000, Talbot said.
The solar-powered lights would be tripped by a vehicle's movement, and illuminate the roadway only when drivers need it, said Andrew Sheaff, a lecturer at UMaine who is overseeing the project. The lights would remain off when there is no traffic, which in Aroostook County is much of the time.
Students in the university's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Orono have begun to build the prototype, Sheaff said.
"It requires quite a bit of hardware to get the lights to turn on. It gets complicated to get that behavior right," Sheaff said.
The electrical and computer parts for the lights came in this week, Sheaff said, and the students will build the prototype through the summer. Ideally, he said, the transportation department will test the lights this fall, during the mating season for moose.
"The best case is, the lights will go in this October. But the students have to build it on their own time in the summer," Sheaff said.
A simpler device was installed by the transportation department in the past two years, and it appears to be working.
On two mile-long stretches of road that are common moose-crash areas in Aroostook County, the department installed reflective markers about 10 to 20 feet apart, Talbot said.
The stretches are on Caribou Road between Caribou and Van Buren, and on the road between Van Buren and Grand Isle. The reflective markers cost as much as $22,000 for a one-mile section, Talbot said.
While Talbot said it's too soon to tell whether there has been a significant change in the frequency of moose collisions in those areas, local residents already like the results.
Yves Lizotte, Madawaska's public works director, said the reflective strips are working. He said they do the one thing drivers in rural Maine need: indicate when large animals are at the roadside.
Because a moose's eyes don't reflect like those of a whitetail deer, it can be impossible to see a moose on a dark road at night.
"Now, you can see in the reflective strips up ahead, and if there is a shadow on the side of the road, you know why," Lizotte said.
Dionne, the Madawaska resident, regularly drives the stretch of road in Grand Isle. He said the reflectors are exactly what northern Maine needs.
Because they are set up every 20 feet over the stretch of road, he said, a moose's presence is obvious when the pattern in the reflectors is broken.
"You see a dead zone," he said. "You see a reflector missing. To me, it's effective and cheap technology."
Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: