Impact of moose- and deer-vehicle collisions in the north

November 21, 2022
A moose stands at the side of a road

A collaborative approach among a NMP preceptor and ER doctor, a CBL tutor for the NMP, a now university president, a father, and keen medical and biology students has helped to further understanding of how moose- and deer-vehicle collisions impact northern B.C. motorists.

In 2011, Roy Rea, a Senior Lab Instructor in Ecosystem Science and Management at UNBC and a CBL tutor for the NMP since 2016, and Dr. Devin Spooner, an ER doctor at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia (UHNBC) and NMP Year 3 Clerkship Director, began to look at data regarding patterns of moose-vehicle collisions as well as patient impacts to those involved.  In the months and years following those initial discussions, they tried to gain a deeper understanding of those impacts by developing a survey to be given to wildlife collision survivors to gauge the kinds of emotional and physical impacts resulting from such collisions (they also surveyed those who survived deer-vehicle collisions).  

Fundamental to the success of that project, Roy hired UNBC undergraduate students Amy Von der Gonna (2014 UNBC grad; 2018 UBC Dentistry grad; now practicing dentistry in Prince George) and Corin MacPhail (2018 UNBC grad; 2022 NMP grad; now in Edmonton on her Pediatric Residency) to develop and proctor those surveys. Gayle Hesse of BC Conservation Foundation’s Wildlife Vehicle Collision Program was a co-investigator with Roy and Devin. The research was funded by the NMP’s Dr. Geoff Payne (now UNBC president) through the Northern Medical Program. The data was collected and written up by undergraduate thesis student and 2019 UNBC Health Sciences grad Samantha Conway (now Director of Health and Fitness and Aquatics at the Y), and was published this last year in the Journal of Transport and Health:

  • Conway, S., R.V. Rea, C. MacPhail, A. Von der Gonna, G. Hesse, and D. Spooner. 2022.  Exploratory Analysis of Physical and Emotional Impacts and Use of Emergency and Healthcare Services Following Moose and Deer Vehicle Collisions in North-Central British Columbia. Journal of Transport and Health. 

To add to their knowledge on this topic and help understand the kinds of healthcare access required, and injury patterns sustained by these patients and if such patterns were being captured by hospital records, Dr. Payne, in 2014, connected Roy with medical student (and now doctor) David Montoya (2017 NMP grad), as part of the then NMP Summer Student Program, to work with UNHBC staff and collect patient data for the study.  Roy and Gayle (plus Amy who helped to get this started) worked with David and David’s father, Thompson Rivers University Professor Dr. Chris Montoya to mine and study the data. Undergraduate student Braedon Aujla (2021 UNBC grad; now second year PharmD at UBC) then wrote up the data for an independent study project.

Cover of September 2022 BC Medical JournalTogether, the team published the article in a recent issue of the BC Medical Journal:

This article even made the cover of the journal!

“These publications are proof when the planets align on a topic that requires study, and keen collaborators come together to make it happen, not only can our research networks grow,” says Roy, “but useful products, that can help practitioners better understand regional patient needs, can result.”