MONTREAL RIVER HARBOUR – Hope continues for the rescue of more caribou from Michipicoten Island.

Michipicoten First Nation (MFN) has requested permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to move some of the remaining caribou off of Michipicoten Island to create a back-up population on Caribou Island. MFN, with the help of private funding, is willing to pay for the translocation of the threatened species if MNRF will allow the move.

The Municipality of Wawa has given full support to the project. In a phone interview with Sault Star, Wawa Mayor Ron Rody said that MFN, MNRF and Wawa, working together would represent a “great new example of healing and co-operation.”

“Is reconciliation just words?” he said. “This is an example of really making it happen.”
However, in an e-mail to the Sault Star, Leo LaPiano, Michipicoten First Nation Lands and Resources conservation officer, said, the ministry staff is “balking” at MFN moving caribou to Caribou Island.

Private, remote, three- by one-kilometre, Caribou Island sits 35 kilometres south of Michipicoten Island and has been the home of caribou before. In the spring of 1771, Alexander Henry sailed out to Caribou Island, what he called “The Island of Yellow Sands,” to look for gold. He spent three days at the island and, while there, recorded in his journal that he and his party killed 13 caribou.

LaPiano said MNRF told the First Nation it didn’t want to make another management decision until it had broader “public engagement.”
“They told us that they don’t want to interfere,” LaPiano said. “There’s still too much uncertainty over whether the caribou might survive.”

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