Sable Island horses ‘doing well’ after storm Fiona, Parks Canada says

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Atlantic Canada expects slow recovery following Fiona’s wrath
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Horses on Sable Island National Park Reserve in Nova Scotia are “doing well and engaging in all of their usual behaviours” after post-tropical storm Fiona hit Atlantic Canada this weekend, Parks Canada says.

In a statement sent to Global News Monday, Jennifer Nicholson, Parks Canada spokesperson for Sable Island National Park Reserve, said the horses act instinctively and seek shelter in groups in the lee of the dunes during the storm.

Sable Island National Park Reserve is a narrow strip of dunes and grasslands that is managed by Parks Canada. About 500 Sable Island Horses roam here alongside the world’s biggest breeding colony of grey seals.

The island is located in the Atlantic Ocean near the edge of the Continental Shelf, which is 290 kilometres offshore from Halifax, according to Parks Canada.

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Zoe Lucas, president of not-for-profit organization Sable Island Institute, was with three Parks Canada personnel on Sable Island over the weekend, according to a Facebook post published Sunday.  Lucas said by late Saturday morning Saturday, “horses had emerged from sheltered areas and were grazing, grooming, and engaged in their usual activities.”

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“The horses are pretty used to storms, they find shelter from the wind and blowing sand in the lee of dunes — there are plenty of hollows and high dune slopes in inland areas, and depending on the wind direction, the horses also huddle on the beach at the base of the dunes,” the Facebook post reads.

Click to play video: 'Hurricane Fiona devastates Atlantic Canada'
Hurricane Fiona devastates Atlantic Canada

Nicholson said a detailed assessment of assets damaged by Fiona on the island is underway.

“While damages were incurred to the exterior of main station’s buildings (siding and sheathing), no catastrophic property damage has been detected,” she wrote.

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Nicholson added that satellite phone check-ins took place throughout last Friday night and internet connection of the main station, which is a operational hub of island activities and programs, was restored in Saturday morning.

The generators were able to continue to provide power throughout the storm, while the water and electrical systems are up and running, Nicholson said.

“We do not yet know the extent of damage to dune systems,” she wrote. “Preliminary reports indicate that erosion was less than anticipated.”

The site will remain closed as Parks Canada continues the detailed assessments of damage by Fiona, according to Nicholson.

Visitor flights to Sable Island are cancelled until at least Sept. 29 when their resumption will be re-assessed.

— with files from Reuters 

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