ReWilding PEI



I find it hard to believe that PEI is taken seriously as an official Canadian province.  It is severely lacking one very important thing that all other provinces have:  wildlife!  (And no, I’m not talking about those who have imbibed a bit too much in a Charlottetown tavern.)  How can we call ourselves Canadian when we don’t share this tiny province with any of the iconic animals that Canada is known for world wide … wolves, bears, deer, and most importantly, my favourite:  the humble moose?

Now many of you may not miss wolves or bears, and I do admit, I haven’t missed them while living in the mild-wilds of Panmure Island, as originally coming from rural Ontario, people are known to run into a bear or two in a lifetime.  But the humble moose, “shaggy and cuddlesome,” now there’s a Canadian icon I could embrace.

The practise of “rewilding” North America was introduced by Michael Soule in 1990, in hopes to bring plants and animals back to their natural habitat.   Now since PEI has never had moose originally, we wouldn’t be technically “rewilding” but simply introducing a species which may improve the diversity of our entire ecosystem.   Similar to how wolves influence river systems, moose may rewild PEI.

Let’s rewild this province with 20 moose, perhaps a dozen to start… and then let them happily do their own rewilding.   They’d definitely add to our limited tourist attractions.   Could you imagine a moose cresting the hill behind the Anne of Green Gables farm?  What a photo that would be!  It could grace the cover of the next season’s tourism magazine.  Or … could you imagine Farmer MacDonald looking out his kitchen window while he perks his morning coffee, and “low and behold” a majestic moose is standing in the middle of his potato field?  Wait, scrap that image … those toxic plants are only for human consumption!

Take Two:  Fishermen unloading their boats at Victoria by the Sea, while a big old moose rambles down the main street.  The tourists sitting outside Island Chocolates might wonder what’s in their delicious coffee blend, and head inside for a refill.  “Throw a few chocolates into that bag as well.”  See … toss a few moose into our provincial landscape and the possibilities for economic growth are endless.

So now since I have hopefully convinced you that we could enhance our image of being Canadian by moose-ifying PEI, we must consider logistics.   I think importing them from New Brunswick might be our best bet.  We could herd them over the causeway with Pembroke Farm’s Border Collies.  This first official photo op just might make American news.  (And if Trump doesn’t provoke Americans to relocate to PEI, I’m sure moose will.  Hence our real estate values will go up!)   But moose are tall and leggy and we wouldn’t want any to get hurt tumbling over the concrete barrier into the Northumberland Strait … so let’s consider Plan B.

Perhaps it’s best we adopt them from Newfoundland.   Let’s invite Rick Mercer to be the parade marshal as they are loaded onto the Marine Atlantic Ferries in Port aux Basques, and then finally off loaded at Wood Islands.  I can just hear exhilarating music playing in the background as the convoy of moose trucks file down the ferry ramp.  I vote for Meaghan Blanchard singing “The Circle of Life.”  Rather well-worn I know, but I couldn’t think of a good song about a moose.  Perhaps in time Meaghan or Eddie Quinn will change that.

We could distribute the moose throughout the island, close to our polluted rivers so at least they might be able to find some aquatic plants.  (Does anyone know how to grow water lilies?)  Let’s drop two moose off near Hunter River, some behind the Potato Museum in O’Leary, and let’s not forget the small forested area on Point Prim.  And those beautiful golden horses that so often photo bomb pictures of Panmure Island Lighthouse, well perhaps the next bunch of postcards hot off the press will have a real live moose standing in the foreground!

And yes, we would have to pay considerable more attention while driving at night … and no, there will be no hunting licenses issued!

While we’re at it, let’s dream in techno-colour … my final wish would be a life-size drift wood statue in Montague, The Beautiful, commemorating the 2016 arrival of moose to Canada’s smallest province.  On the plaque would be the famous poem by the Nova Scotia poet, Alden Nowlan …  “The Bull Moose!” It’s sad, but beautiful.

This could be the beginning of bringing our animal-barren/soil-depleted/river-dead province back to life.

Moose in PEI … what a wild idea!


Sharon Robson

Published by The Guardian Newspaper, May 11, 2016




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