FAQs | Let's Talk Sable Island! | Let's Talk Sable Island!

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Are the horses wild?

The horses are part of the island’s ecological community and as such are protected as wildlife by Parks Canada under the Canada National Parks Act and the National Parks of Canada Wildlife Regulations. Parks Canada’s definition of the horses as a wild population of a naturalized species is consistent with the COSEWIC and IUCN definition of wildlife species (an animal in its present habitat for more than 50 years). As with other wildlife in national parks, these regulations protect the Sable Island horses from hunting, harm, and disturbance and stipulate that no person shall touch, feed or otherwise interact with individuals of the population, except under authority of the superintendent. It is important to note that as a wild population, Parks Canada does not consider the Sable Island horses to be domestic animals, which live and breed in tame conditions and depend on humankind for survival. 

Is Parks Canada considering camping as one of the options for the future of Sable Island?

At Parks Canada we are guided by our mandate to protect this iconic island and share its story with Canadians. At this stage, we are seeking public input regarding visitor opportunities that have been suggested in the past by partners, stakeholders and the public.

The management planning process is a public forum to discuss all the options to help guide future decisions for visitor experience on the island. Let’s Talk Sable Island! is just the first step in that process.

What is Parks Canada's plan for visitation?

Parks Canada is a recognized leader in conservation and has a good track record for managing visitation in remote and fragile environments. The strategic plan for visitor experiences on Sable Island National Park Reserve will be considered as part of the management planning process. Since 2014, visits to Sable Island National Park Reserve have been limited to day trips and are carefully managed by Parks Canada through a registration system, mandatory orientation and provision of detailed trip planning information to ensure visitor safety and protection of the island’s resources.

How did Parks Canada develop the questions and themes identified in the consultation process?

Parks Canada pulled from the feedback gathered at the time of park establishment to identify core themes to be further explored in the consultations process. For example, the visitor experience question in the survey is based on the visitor experiences suggested by partners, stakeholders, and the public during park establishment.

Will there be oil and gas exploration on Sable Island?

The establishment of Sable Island as a national park reserve is a major conservation gain.  Bill S-15 added Sable Island to the Canada National Parks Act - the strongest piece of legislation in Canada for the protection of natural places - providing Parks Canada with the policy and regulatory tools required to manage this national park reserve. With the creation of the Sable Island National Park Reserve, Canada and Nova Scotia agreed to implement a legislative ban on drilling from the surface of Sable Island out to one nautical mile. 

What was discovered during Parks Canada's archaeological survey of Sable Island?

During the survey, we located structural evidence of houses, barns, outbuildings, fences, light house features, and other building remnants. Generally, these were observed in areas where wind action has blown the sand from the features. In several areas, known foundation remnants observed in the past are currently covered by sand. In addition, we observed and recorded hundreds of artifacts associated with the house and living sites. Of particular research interest was the discovery of a high number of mid-to-late 18th century artifacts found within the zone of a later life-saving station, established on site in 1801. 

The geospatial location of each site and artifact debris field was surveyed and recorded with a digital maplogger and added to the geographical information system (GIS) designed for managing Sable Island's cultural heritage.  Although large amounts of new data were collected in 2015, the primary goal of the survey was to establish a base line of cultural resource information to serve as a record of the condition, potential, extent, and location of Sable Island's cultural resources. 

With the information already collected, we can begin to map the areas of high resource potential and define the overall heritage value of Sable Island’s human history. From there, the final step will include establishing a monitoring protocol to measure the impact of wind erosion and site exposure at each location. Accurate maps and photographic imagery of the exposed artifact fields and architectural features contribute to an overall assessment of the physical condition of a resource, and plans to safeguard it from additional loss. Sites like Sable Island National Park Reserve reflect the rich and varied heritage of our nation and provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history.